New and only in Canada, the Chairman’s Select 100% Rye Whisky is Canadian Club‘s latest in its premium lineup. As the name suggests it is made from 100% rye grain, and it’s the first of its kind to be introduced by any of the top three selling whisky brands in Canada. The #IHeartRye event, held on March 31st at The Citizen in the happening King West neighbourhood, offered us a chance to discover what this new whisky was all about.
Upon arrival, we received a “passport” that contained the recipes for the featured cocktails of the night – the Dry Rye Manhattan and the CC 100% Rye Old Fashioned. Both cocktails used the star whisky of the night – the Chairman’s Select 100% Rye Whisky. Along with the recipes were detachable tickets that you can use at various stations throughout the venue. There was one for trying a shot of the Chairman’s Select Maple Whisky, which was incredibly smooth, rich, sweet, with a hint of spicy. There were also two interactive stations where you learned how to make the two featured cocktails. Our instructors included Matt Jones – whisky ambassador for Beam Suntory Canada, and Nick Incretolli, the public’s choice winner at the Made With Love Toronto cocktail finals just the night before. I had the pleasure meeting Matt last year at a Jim Beam bourbon tasting, where we created our own custom cocktails under his guidance. I was excited to see that we’d be doing something similar here.
In attendance this night were the distinguished Canadian Club “godparents” of whisky, Dan Tullio and Tish Harcus. Dan Tullio is the Master Ambassador for Canadian Club, and officially started off the evening by delivering the welcoming remarks. Tish Harcus is the Brand Ambassador for Canadian Club; tonight she would lead the whisky tasting sessions. Both were very charming and friendly, and mingled with the guests.
The tastings were held in a curtained-off, separate section of The Citizen. They were divided into multiple sessions each lasting about half an hour. This allowed for a more intimate experience where guests can more readily interact and connect with Harcus as she lead them through the tasting. There were four whiskies to try – the Premium 1858, the Classic 12 Year Old, the Chairman’s Select 100% Rye, and the Sherry Cask. My favourite turned out to be the Chairman’s Select 100% Rye, for its caramel, oak, and vanilla notes, and its smooth, long, and clean finish. Asking others about their favourites, each of the whiskies came up as an answer, which shows that there truly is a Canadian Club whisky for everyone’s taste.
To go with the drinks, The Citizen provided delicious food for pairing. This included mushroom poutine, sausage with every condiment you can imagine, spring rolls, bruschetta, and lamb lollipops that used Canadian Club whisky in the flavouring. Along with sampling the cocktails and food, guests were invited to use tweet and Instagram their photos from the night using the official hashtag #IHeartRye. For their efforts they received a print of their photo – a very personalized souvenir to remember the evening.
I always enjoy going to interactive events because they’re instantly memorable. And if by chance you enjoyed the whisky just a little too much, you also had the cocktail recipes, the tweets and Instagram posts, and your souvenir photos to remind you later of the great evening you had. We learned a lot about Canadian Club and its lineup of whiskies, including the surprising price points for each. At only $27.45 for a 750 ml bottle, I’ll definitely be picking up the new Chairman’s Select 100% Rye. Thanks to Canadian Club, Praxis PR, and The Citizen for a thoughtful and well-organized event!
Photos by John Tan