Super-Premium Blended Whisky Battle: 30 year Canadian Club vs. Blue Label

May 14 2010 - 12:17 AM

X2_1547befLately I have been drinking whiskeys from all over the world and while I am developing a taste for Santori (and for God's sake, all things Japanese), I'm tabling the single malts and cask-strength bourbons for a particular head's up contest. This evening, I finally got a chance at a sip of Johnny Walker Blue Label. It wrapped up the tasting that began with Black and went to Red, Gold & Green before the Blue. Needless to say it wasn't bad. I came straight home though and poured a nose of my Canadian Club 30 year. While it's an ocean apart literally in location and in style, I felt that as it was a blend and at the same price point it would be an interesting comparison. Even though they're apples and oranges, they're both fruit.

The thing that I really noticed about the Blue was the mouth-feel. My hunch is that when a whisky is described as buttery or 'evaporates on your tongue'-type talk is used, it translates to mouth-feel. It leaves your mouth coated and maybe a bit fuzzy. The blue does this a lot. It's not a sweet scotch but it's also not very peaty. It's a blend and that's exactly what you get. If you're a big single malt guy, you probably would get more out of the Green label. While it's the only Walker that's all malt, it doesn't catch you with the smoky peat like Laphroaig or Lagavulin. It's pretty mellow with the peat taking a back seat to a woodiness that starts to walk back to a barrel-flavor. Blue is nothing if it's not balanced and while it's not overly anything, you taste everything, sweetness, smoke, wood, peat, floral, honey.

The Canadian Club is where the barrel translates to oak and it is like any bourbon-styled whisky, by comparison sweeter. Hints of brown sugar and vanilla are right up any bourbon drinker's alley. I don't have any beef with Canadian whiskey. I know it's a love-hate thing and frankly do really like Club across the board, particularly the 6 year. This whisky is blended before aging whereas I believe the Blue is blended afterward. I think it's also logical that the oak barreling is dominant. Where you catch hints of peat and floral in the Blue you pick up sweet smoke in Club. Blue is butter and Club is butter-cream.

So which is better? I'd say it depends on your mood. They are absolutely apples and oranges but as Canadian Club was actually started in Detroit by one Hiram Walker we can say to him what we say to Johnny, "Keep Walking."