The Search For Hidden Cases Of Canadian Club Whisky Continues Nearly 60 Years Later

It's unlikely the creative minds behind an innovative marketing campaign that kicked off in 1967 ever imagined it would still be making headlines almost six decades later — but it is. We're talking about "Hide a Case," a participatory promotion that challenged mid-20th-century fans of Canadian Club Whisky to scour the world in search of hidden cases of the moderately priced blended rye spirit — the keyword being participatory. Starting in 1967 — for perspective, that's the year Elvis Presley married Priscilla — Hiram Walker & Sons, then-owner of Canadian Club, began hiding cases of whisky at locations around the world and challenging fans to find them. 

Make no mistake: This was not an easy endeavor. There were no X-marks-the-spot maps to guide treasure hunters. The cases, 25 in all, were stashed in locations like Angel Falls in Venezuela, the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall; atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the world's tallest free-standing mountain; and at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the world's largest coral reef — iconic locations with no easy access. So, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that, almost 60 years after the hunt began, a few cases remain hidden, beckoning modern-day adventurers to unleash their inner Indian Jones. But there's a catch: Except for a few lingering clues from the original campaign, a bit of legend and folklore, and some sleuth-like deduction on the part of wannabe discoverers, information confirming the exact locations of those still-hidden cases of Canadian Club has been lost to history.

Lost and found

In the early days, Hiram Walker & Sons took out elaborate print ads announcing the placement of each case with often vague hints to its location — a process that continued for decades. In 2018, the Daily Mail unearthed a few of those vintage ads including one declaring, "On Sept. 7, 1969, we hid a case of Canadian Club at the Heart of The Great Yukon Gold Rush." That particular case is still missing. At the other end of the spectrum, a case of whisky stashed in the Venezuelan jungle, hidden behind Angel Falls, was discovered just months after the company published clues to its location. According to a 1979 Washington Post article, then-newlyweds David and Diana Mattoon made an impromptu decision to ditch their Acapulco honeymoon in favor of a jungle adventure. With the help of a local guide, they endured a mosquito-infested trek to the falls where David found the case behind a rock.

Interest in the whisky hunt has waxed and waned for decades. And while Canadian Club and the brand's current owner, Beam-Suntory, no longer officially support the initiative, nine cases of the rye whisky are still in the wind. In addition to the not-yet-found stash in The Yukon, records indicate cases are still hidden at Loch Ness in Scotland, on Robinson Crusoe Island in Chile, in the vicinity of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, somewhere near the North Pole, at Lake Placid in New York, and in three unknown locations.

The quest continues

In 1979, to coincide with the 1980 Winter Olympics, the Canadian Club stashed a still-missing case of whisky somewhere in Lake Placid. Four decades later, local resident and business owner Tim Robinson decided it was time to find the bounty once and for all. Along with his friend, DJ Reilly, Robinson combed through published clues. The team that placed the case arrived at the location on cross-country skis. They crested a hill into an open field where they followed a fence line to a clearing with a view of White Face Mountain.

On November 7, 2020, Robinson confidently set out to unearth the treasure. Fifteen hours later, the exhausted crew threw in the towel — temporarily discouraged, but not defeated. Robinson is still hell-bent on finding the long-lost whisky. He regularly visits the site searching for new clues and recruited Barbara Erickson, one-time owner of the property where he believes the treasure is hidden, to share memories of the day her late husband and a couple of Canadian Club reps walked into the woods to bury the booty. He's also adjusting his strategy to align with Erickson's reminder that "This was hide-a-case, not bury-a-case." While Robinson acknowledges the treasure may be long gone, he remains optimistic, telling Tasting Table, "My goal is to have this completed because it's such a cool story."