Review: Crown Royal Blender's Select Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Crown Royal Blender's Select.jpg
7-9 Yrs; Charred Virgin Oak
64% Corn, 31.5% Rye, 4.5% Malted Barley
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

An Ontario exclusive, with 5000 cases produced (so probably 20,000 or 30,000 bottles). It was made from Crown Royal's highly esteemed Coffey Rye - a bourbon style whisky made in a coffey still (one of 5 types of distillates produced at crown royal). Largely, it's the heart of Crown Royal - you can see it throughout Crown Royal's blends. It is seen in the Hand Selected Barrel, but not elsewhere - directly. It's only made once a year, over a 5 week period, because so much tuning has to be done to get the luscious spirit just right - so once they have it right, they go with it and produce their yearly demand.

To craft this whisky, Crown Royal master blender Mark Balkenende combined 7 and 9 year old whiskies. The 9 year old whisky was added to the 7 to give more structure and offset some of the sweetness, which was my worry when I saw a coffey rye product at 45%. Matured in new oak.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 1327A51232

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is elegant, rich, and oaky – butterscotch, banana cream pie, toffee, nutmeg, clove, corn oil, and cream. What a magnificent dessert whisky. The nose is ever so expressive, from the first nose to the empty glass. Very similar, as might be expected, to Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel – depending on the barrel, of course, but this is spicier and broader on the nose than most single barrels I’ve tasted (as it is a batch, not a single barrel, the broadness might be expected). The palate has light oak, coconut, butterscotch, bannoffee pie, and finishing with tannins and drying spice. Really nice – I like the oak, and not as sweet as I feared – but, still, in my opinion – this whisky shines at a higher proof like my beloved hand selected barrel. Still, this is wonderful...

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. For my “highly recommended” whiskies, $55 is pretty good!

Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L73042S00114 32 5ISI 1347A50053

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

This came down in price to $45, which made me rather eager to try it again. It’s already one of my favourite Canadian whiskies in Ontario, but isn’t nearly as good as the single barrels they used to release (sadly). Some of those were among the best whiskies I’ve tasted. But, that was good in part because it was bottled at a higher proof which helps balance out the sweetness of this whisky.

But here we have it on the nose – a whisky like no other. Rich, creamy, confectionary character, stewed peaches, stewed apricots, vanilla, butterscotch, oak, icing sugar, and a really nice presentation of corn. The palate follows suit, with the creamy oak playing a huge role and lightly supplying tannins, to a long, creamy, sweet finish. And, that banana cream pie.

My favourite dessert whisky of all time. It’s about on par with sweetness to a bourbon, but it’s the confectionary characters that just embellish every ounce of woody sweetness in this. Also, along with the single barrel, one of the most unique whiskies I’ve ever encountered (and I’ve encountered quite a few!).

Oh, if crown royal would ever bottle single barrels at cask strength of this, their bourbon mash, and their rye (and their batch corn at older ages, too, but that need not be at high proof)….

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very High. $45 is great for this.