Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection Wine Barrel Finished Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image.

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image.

Finished for 6 months in Californian Cabernet Sauvignon Cask
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

This whisky is a crown royal finished in cabernet sauvignon casks - the second in their "Noble Collection" after last year's Cornerstone. This whisky is finished in freshly emptied, medium toast Cabernet Sauvignon casks from the Paso Robles region of California for 6 months.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: Lot 0100-43-B1245

  • Bottling Date: 2016

I’m getting interesting notes on the nose. Canadian whisky is becoming really interesting – expanding, yet still within its own style. Hats off to the team at Crown Royal.

New oak, superposed on rich grain (bourbony notes and some rye) with lots of fruit – prunes, dried peaches, dried apricots, along with typical wine notes of cassis, black currant, and then we have clove, green cardamom (French oak, perhaps?), mixed baking spices, cola, licorice, and pine. Buttery and creamy, with all of that oak influence. It really evolves, with rye notes emerging more with time. And, underneath, beet root! Some blending magic at work.

The palate is full of new oak and toffee, yet those cassis and blackberry notes continue. Lightly herbal, with mint, tarragon, arugula, and dried corn husks. Also, lots of custard (quite clearly so). I don’t know if I’ve ever had a whisky display custard so prominently. The finish continues with custard and spices – nutmeg, clove, and green cardamom. And a splash of rye, coming out more clearly as you drink it. Very complex, as a whole.

Wiser’s isn’t the only one continuing to push Canadian whisky forward. I like this more than last year’s release. The thing I like the most about this is where the rye sits – underneath it all – and I didn’t notice it at first, but it starts to emerge as a backbone of the whole blend. I do like rye a bit more forward, but it is still impressive to be able to merge the fruity and creamy style with the herbal rye. Also, it’s not overtly winey - which I like – it is subtle and very well integrated.

Since tasting notes can be confusing to interpret, here is how I would describe this whisky relative to others – it is somewhat of a cross between the fruity style of a cognac finished crown royal (think XO or Cask No. 16), with the buttery, creamy style of the softer crown royals, and the softer new-oak influenced wiser’s whiskies like One Fifty, Union 52, or Red Letter (but not as spicy as Red Letter). It has similar notes to last year’s Cornerstone blend, in terms of the rye notes – but it is very different in focus. Some marvelous blending at work here.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). An exceptional work of blending - balanced, broad, complex, deep…

Value: Very high. I think this is a stunning whisky, and 70$ for that is a bargain.