Nucky Thompson walks into a Chicago hotel, upgrades his room and demands a bucket of ice and three bottles of Canadian Club.
Thompson, of course, is the lead character in HBO’s new hit show, “Boardwalk Empire.” He’s in charge of Atlantic City’s bootlegging racket during Prohibition. For 147 years, Canadian Club tried to hide its connections to Al Capone and organized crime.
Now, they embrace it.
“When prohibition ended, the new owner burned all the files. He didn’t want any association with those [gangsters],” said Dan Tullio, director of Canadian Club Whisky. “They never wanted to talk about it [until five years ago], but it’s an inherent truth. We quenched the thirst of our American friends.”
The company was founded by an American distiller, Hiram Walker, who moved to Canada so he could sell his hooch legally. Today, it remains the No. 1 distributed Canadian whisky (the Scottish way of spelling whiskey) in North America. If it’s good enough for Don Draper’s desk — advertising executives swig it profusely in AMC’s “Mad Men” — then it’s good enough for everyone.
“People used to come to up to us and say, ‘My grandfather used to drink that,” said Tish Harcus, brand ambassador. “Now there’s a change in image. Young guys are paying attention to us.”