Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection Rye aged 16 Years / by Jason Hambrey

16 Years
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

There isn’t much that’s officially released about this whisky, beyond that it is 16 years old and made from a 90% rye mash (does this mean it’s 90% rye? pretty vague!). Sadly, this was not released in Canada - which stirs up genuine anger in me. Between this one, and the 13 year old “Blender’s Mash” - two of my all-time favourite Canadian whiskies - were released by Canada’s biggest whisky brand for the states, and not even for the country where it has its heritage. It does seem, sometimes, that Canada gets Crown Royal’s leftovers.

Well, we don’t have much else to go on, so why not give it a taste?

Review (2021)

  • Batch: 16 Year Rye (Fifth Release of the Noble Collection)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

What a nose! Rich oak, bright rye, dried fruit, cedar,  coconut, white grape, baking spice…what incredible spiciness! The age, the spice, and the fruitiness remind me here of well aged Armagnac – a great thing in my book – although the spiciness is on another level. There is some sharp spice, dried apricot, dill seed, and an incredible oaky richness that I only see in whiskies aged a long time in active casks. Some licorice and a light touch of spinach, and oaky vanilla – you can really go hunting with this one! What a beauty. I can dwell on the spices for some significant time.

The palate is spicy, rich, and full of dried fruit and some intense baking spice. Loads of cedar, too. The balance of spice, dried fruit, oaky notes, nutty notes (almond here), touch of coconut, and herbs are absolutely stunning. It even has some dried persian lime. Wow. The finish is lightly tannic, with lots of dried apricot and spice.

A wow whisky. Not too many of those. I was only given a sample but I am extremely disappointed that Crown didn’t release these in Canada. Two of the top three (or arguably 2 of the top 2) noble collection releases were destined for the US, only.

One of my all-time favourite Canadian whiskies, and one of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). Complexity, balance, length, movement - it’s all there.

Value: Very High. This is a great whisky for the price. Even at $100, it’s hard to find a whisky of this quality at that price.