Hiram Walker, a grocer from Massachusetts who set up business in Windsor Ontario, made the decision to distil whiskey after his first love — home-made cider vinegar — failed to set the world alight. Hiram's loss was very much the world's gain. He produced his first barrels in 1854, and they were an immediate hit with customers. Never one to miss the main chance, he bought two farm lots up the river from Windsor and built a whisky distillery. Club Whisky, the first Canadian whisky to have a brand name and to be sold in sealed bottles, was born.
A popular success in gentleman's clubs, Club Whiskey soon threatened to put American distillers out of business. In an attempt to slow Hiram down they forced through a law that required he put the word Canadian before Club on his bottles. Their cunning plot failed, and the new name Canadian Club, had a certain cachet. It became more popular than ever in the US and around the world.
Ironically, it was during the riotous days of prohibition (1919–1932) that sales really exploded, with two-thirds of all whisky smuggled into the US by gangsters coming from Canada. Thankfully the days of bootlegging and prohibition are gone. Canadian Club master blenders still make a smooth, pure whisky exactly as Hiram Walker did back in the 1850's, using the best ingredients, a time-tested recipe, pre-barrel blending and lots of patience.