A giant of Canadian whisky, created in 1858 and spending six long years in oak before bottling for the smoothest possible flavour.
Hiram Walker founded the 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 the 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 long 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.
The flagship whisky their whisky journey began. This is the one that started the legend. A giant of Canadian whisky since 1858, it’s aged longer for 6 years, 3 years are required by law in oak barrels, before bottling for the smoothest possible flavour.
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.
The grain bill includes rye, rye malt, barley malt and corn. Corn produces a distillate that is colourless, odourless and tasteless, the base whisky. Rye, rye malt and barley malt are the grains that give Canadian Club its unique flavour.
The various distillates are blended together before aging. The Master Blender creates the blend to the original recipe, then put into the American oak barrels. This prebarrel blending allows the flavour of the distillates to marry during the aging process, creating a smoother, more refined taste profile.