Review: Crown Royal Black Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Crown Royal Black 1.jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

This whisky was (relatively) recently introduced – a higher strength (45%), “robust, full-bodied” whisky. It certainly is, relative to the regular offerings such as Crown Royal Reserve – but it is still quite smooth and creamy (in line with the other Crown Royal products), and certainly does not have as big a body as I was expecting from the label.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Fruity, with light bourbon notes, chocolate, and some gooseberries. There’s a bit of grainy rye and it is a touch sour; the fruitiness is interesting – it’s quite light, with just touches of apple and starfruit, but more dominated by soft fruits (apricots, peaches) and even marula fruit (which I only know from the liquer Amarula). There’s also a bit of cedar which fits in nicely, with some brown sugar, bitter orange, rye bread, and a touch of stale rye with just a hint of bitterness. It also has distinct hints of the blackberry and black currant notes you get in some big red wines. This comes alongside some stale, slightly mineral notes, and even some hints of fried onion (which I had to verify I wasn’t getting from the kitchen – I wasn’t!). Very interesting.

Taste: It starts out with some juicy, fruity rye and ends delicately with corn, vanilla, oak, and some light fruitiness after a touch of rye. It’s actually quite tangy, which is interesting – and it is yet creamy and rich. There’s some cacao, cinnamon, ginger, and brown sugar in the mix, too. Quite enjoyable, but not outstanding.

Finish: Some cedar, ginger, vanilla, orange peel, and oak appear, with some subtler notes of nutmeg and cinnamon and a touch of smoke. The fruitiness is not as present as I would expect. However, the finish is quite light but still full.

The colour is actually not very black…I find it a touch off-putting. Jim Murray described this whisky as “russet” – he got that right. It interestingly treads through both bold and delicate, as you might expect from a Crown Royal.

Value: Average. Not bad for the price ($33)


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Nutty and woody, with some light apple, dried apricot, white grape, dry oak and beautifulbourbon notes, and balsamic vinegar. The grain is quite rich and buttery overall. On the palate, the whisky comes more alive with some apple and a balance of sweetness, grain, and spice concluding with a dry, spicy finish. Can't escape that bourbon influence...

Value: Average. Not bad for the price ($33)


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Light fruit – banana, pear, gooseberry – but also rich vanilla, custard, and fresh apple. The palate is easy, with lots of apple, vanilla notes, and a light finish still focused on vanilla, but with clove and light oak.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Not bad for the price.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

I must say, it’s always hard to get past the colour. I would like this more, in fact it might even be more natural to rate it higher, if it had more of a natural colour. A lot of whiskies add a fair bit of caramel, but nothing comes close to this one. Some folks call it “crown royal russet” which I thought was always fitting.

But, as for how it tastes. It really is a very well blended, complex whisky – black tea, dried fruit, prune, white pepper, grapefruit, vanilla, dried orange peel, creamed sugar and butter, and light oak. The palate is nicely balanced – sweet oak, caramel, herbal notes, floral notes, baking spice, and white pepper. The tannins creep gently into the finish.

I think for the profile, ABV, and character of the whisky it makes for a terrific casual or table whisky. Great bang for your buck.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High at $34.