• Drunk as Lords

Canadian Whisky, Why Not?



If nothing else, the streaming age has proven that there isn’t much good television. Mrs. M started re-watching Mad Men when I was out of town in the spring, of course, I got hooked. Now we’re wrapping up and I’m stuck with the weird feeling that, like the gang at Sterling Cooper, the world verging from the absurdly turbulent 60’s to the stubborn, clinging double-knit strangeness of the 70s. (See Exchange), again.


Perhaps a show about the golden age of advertising was just that – night in and night out watched a handsome, rich fella navigate the increasingly self-inflicted train-wreck of his life with his favorite Canadian Whisky in hand.


Like Scotch, Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, Canadian whisky is a legal designation. The mash bill is a combination of corn, wheat and rye but tends to lean on the latter two. Unlike American whiskey, each ingredient is distilled and matured separately, then blended together. Scotch, more often than not, only has one ingredient: barley. By Canadian law, up to 10% fruit spirits can be added. This opens up the flavor profiles with which distillers can tinker. This cuts both ways.


Years ago, I tried Crown Royal, but can’t remember where. I have a vague feeling that I thought it was too sweet. I also have the vague feeling that someone was drinking it with coke. Since we’re going full Don Draper here to extend the metaphor, this week searched for Don’s favorite Canadian Club 1858 but couldn’t find it, which I suppose is a good sign. So I went with Canadian Club Classic 12 year old. It’s a richer than I was expecting – a big flavor without the heat. I suspect that it’s the fruit spirit – read: brandy – that rounds it out. You get hints of vanilla and toffee without much spice. The 1858 has a little more spice and bite to it.


The short answer is that I was surprised how much I liked it neat or with a single enormous cube – sort of a charming combo of whisky and cognac. A splash of soda doesn’t hurt it either if you want to slow things down. What, then, about the cocktail? A Don Draper Old Fashioned? Yes, Indeed. It works wonderfully. It’s the same sweetness as the traditional bourbon OF, rather than the rye. And it you are not trying to crush the demons that come with being a depression-era wastrel, it is worth the effort to make and savor. If you are, maybe just wolf the stuff neat and seek therapy,


The riots of the 60’s passed, and so have the violent spasms of the Lockdown, and now we’re facing some nasty, and possibly sticky, inflation – which brings us to the last point. Canadian Club – even its high rent expression was still pretty cheap. So, it’s a buy: suiting up and screwing everything on two legs is optional.