Canadian Club is a brand of Canadian whisky produced by Beam Suntory. Popularly known as CC, Canadian Club was created by Hiram Walker and Sons, an evolution of a brand around a product that took place over the second half of the nineteenth century. Hiram Walker merged with Gooderham & Worts, Ltd. in 1926, yielding Hiram Walker-Gooderham & Worts, Ltd.
|Manufacturer||Beam Suntory (2011–present)|
|Country of origin||Canada|
Hiram Walker founded his distillery in 1858 in Detroit. He first learned how to distill cider vinegar in his grocery store in the 1830s before moving on to whisky and producing his first barrels in 1854. However, with the Prohibition movement gathering momentum and Michigan already becoming "dry", Walker decided to move his distillery across the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario. From here, he was able to export his whisky and start to develop Walkerville, a model community that Walker financed to provide housing and services for his employees.
Walker's whisky was particularly popular in the late 19th century gentlemen's clubs of the United States and Canada; hence it became known as "Club Whisky". Walker originally positioned the whisky as a premium liquor, pitching it not only on its smoothness and purity but also its five-year oak barrel aging.
Club Whisky became very popular and American distillers petitioned for the inclusion of the word "Canada" on the bottle to distinguish it from their competing whiskies, thinking it would hamper the popularity of Walker's. This backfired, only making Club Whisky more exclusive. Walker saw this and changed the label again in 1889 adding the word "Canadian" to the top of the label, distinguishing Walker's recipe for his whisky from the other processes of the time. In 1890, the word "Canadian" was moved down from the top of the label and incorporated into the name of the whisky.
Walker's distillery passed to his sons upon his death in 1899. At one point, the Walkers employed almost the entire population of Walkerville, where they built police and fire stations, brought in running water and installed street lights. In 1890, the Canadian government acknowledged Walkerville as a legal town. It was incorporated into Windsor in 1935.
During the years of Prohibition, one of the distillery's most important clients was Chicago gangster Al Capone, who smuggled in thousands of cases of Canadian Club via a route from Windsor to Detroit.
Canadian Club has received the royal warrants of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI, and Elizabeth II. Hiram Walker & Sons is the only North American distiller to have been granted a royal warrant.
The Walker distillery remains in production in Windsor. Canadian Club is now part of the Jim Beam portfolio. It is its number four–selling alcoholic product, behind Jim Beam bourbon whiskey, Sauza Tequila, and DeKuyper cordials.
In 1967, Hiram Walker & Sons launched their "Hide A Case" advertising campaign that involved enticing drinkers to seek out cases of Canadian Club that had been hidden at exotic locations throughout the world. These included Mount Kilimanjaro, Angel Falls, Mount St. Helens, and the Swiss Alps. The Mount Kilimanjaro case was not discovered until a Dutch journalist happened upon it in the mid-1970s. A small number of cases, such as one hidden above the Arctic Circle, were never found.
The first "Hide A Case" campaign officially ended in 1971, and a second was started in 1975. This campaign used cases hidden in locations intended to be easier to access, such as in Death Valley and on top of a skyscraper in New York City. This second advertising campaign ended in 1981; between it and the first effort, a total of 22 cases were hidden and at least 16 recovered.
In the 2007 IndyCar Series season, they were main the sponsor for Andretti Green Racing #27 driver, Dario Franchitti during their championship winning season, which also included winning the 2007 Indianapolis 500.
The "Hide A Case" campaign was revived in 2010. According to the contest website, there is a $100,000 grand prize, among other prizes, for the contest's latest incarnation.
Canadian Club whisky comes in seven versions, and as a straight rye. All are 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume), unless otherwise noted.
- Canadian Club 6 Year Old / Canadian Club Premium
- This is the base version and most popular of the Canadian Club range. Often used with mixers. It is sold in more than 150 countries, at 74 proof (37% abv) in New Zealand and Australia.
- Canadian Club Reserve
- The reserve line is matured for ten years.
- Canadian Club Classic
- A 12-year-old whisky.
- Canadian Club 100 Proof
- Matured for six years and bottled at 100 proof (50% abv).
- Canadian Club Sherry Cask
- Double matured, first in white oak barrels for at least eight years, then casks from the Sherry wine region (Spain). It is 82.6-proof (41.3% abv).
- Canadian Club Chairman's Select 100% Rye
- Launched in Canada only, crafted 100% from single grain rye.
Canadian Club is also produced in limited quantities in older agings (15 years and up) for special markets. For the whisky's 150th anniversary in 2008, a 30-year-old version was released in a very limited bottling.
Canadian Club Premium is also blended into a ready-to-drink beverage:
- Canadian Club Whisky RTD
- Launched in Australia in April 2001, Canadian Club Whisky RTD (Ready To Drink cocktail) comes as a 4.8% ABV pre-mixed blend of six-year-old Canadian Club and either Dry Ginger Ale or Cola. It is sold in 330mL bottles or 375mL cans. Both flavours are also available in New Zealand.
A recent line extension is the 6% ABV "Premium Strength", only available in 375mL cans and mixed with Dry Ginger Ale.
- Chris Edwards (2007-05-10). "Getting The Royal Treatment". Walkerville Times. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
- "In those old Canadian Club ads, did anyone find the hidden cases of whiskey?". Straightdope.com. 1979-02-02. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
- "Canadian Club". Hide A Case. Archived from the original on 2011-05-12. Retrieved 2011-05-07.