Review: Crown Royal Hand Selected Single Barrel Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Charred Virgin Oak
64% Corn, 31.5% Rye, 4.5% Malted Barley
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

 This whisky is another beauty from the stocks of Canadian “flavouring” whiskies – strongly flavoured whiskies used as flavouring components in blends. More of these are being released as the connoisseur market is growing. This whisky is made very much like a bourbon – it has a recipe of 64% corn, 31.5% rye, and 4.5% malted barley, and is matured in new oak for around 7 years. At present, these are being released as single barrels. This whisky is my favorite Crown Royal, if not a bit sweet some of the time.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4303K1019
  • Bottling Date: 2015

Nose: Orange, vanilla, dried corn, and oak on the nose. Very crown royal, yet very bourbon-like. The oak is big, sweet, and very central – and slightly smoky, very much smelling like new oak casks (which is what is used to mature this whisky). Lots of lovely creamy, butterscotch notes and apple is around. Spice is present from the rye as well – stale cinnamon.

Taste: Big, bold, and creamy with lots of heavy vanilla, butterscotch, cherry, canned peaches, and oak. Candied orange peel underneath, along with dried cherries and blueberries. This is delicious! The oak integration is fabulous – on the palate, this is perhaps my favorite crown royal. It works well at 51.5% ABV, and the berry spice under the oak is fascinating, and the tannins from the oak are just about right.

Finish: A light, floral, slightly pithy, finish with lots of vanilla, oak, dried berries, butterscotch, canned peaches, raw almonds, and rye spice.

A very different, and very good, crown royal. Lots of creamy oak and flavour. Highly recommended. This really, to me, does seem like the heart of crown royal – you can taste influences of a whisky like this across many of their products, from their base blend on up.

Score: 89/100

Value: 81/100 (based on $74)

Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: Bottled Exclusively for Davin De Kergommeaux
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2015

A different barrel than above. Of all the whiskies I tasted for the Canadian Whisky Awards, this was my absolute favorite and one of the best Canadian whiskies I have tasted.

Rich and deep- it opens up to show earthy notes (think something like the spicy earthiness like in black eyed peas), plantain, banana leaves, spices , wafts of bourbon, barrel char. But, this is at first! As it opens, it becomes sweet and creamy with banana cream pie, tapioca pudding, and some rich vanilla, while retaining the other elements. On the palate, lightly tannic with cherries, banana cream pie, and absolutely brilliant creaminess and oak integration carrying through to a long creamy finish.

Score: 95/100

Value: 99/100 (based on $70)

Review (2016; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2016

Here is a nose! Rich, with a great confectionary balance between the grain, the oak, and the fruit. Vanilla, custard, clove, corn husks, dry rye, banana cream pie, butterscotch candy – gorgeous, no question. The palate is unbelievable – soft and creamy yet full of flavor as cereal spice, baked peaches, steel cut oats, and oaky tannins yield an unbelievable taste. The finish has oak and light olive oil with light tannins. Stunning.

If it were a lower proof it would be too sweet, but the match of the complexity, the sweetness, the mouthfeel, and the spice with the punchy alcohol is just perfect.

Score: 91/100

Value: 89/100 (based on $74)

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code:L41462S 14250815SL143
  • Bottling Date: 2016

I love this stuff so much, and I like following it. It is so unique. A creamy, buttery, oaky, banana cream pie, and cherry laden nose...this batch is more oaky than the previous ones I remember. The palate is full of banana cream pie, oak, cherry, and light corn. A sweet, spicy finish with some cinnamon and more banana. Brief tasting notes, but very similar to the above but not as complex and the high rated batch. I had another batch in the 2017 canadian whisky awards which I would have rated similarly.

This is terrific, but there is definite batch variation in these barrels, as expected from single barrels. This whisky is similar, but a notch below in complexity, nose, and finish from the previous bottlings. Still terrific – but I guess the batches I have tasted in competition have actually been the best.

Not as complex as some 89ers, but I just love the profile. So delicious. I do love good Canadian whisky...

Score: 89/100

Value: 81/100 (based on $50)