Crown Royal

Review: Crown Royal Limited Edition Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Crown Royal Limited Edition.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

Price-wise, this Crown Royal sits in between their ultra-premium offerings and their budget offerings. As far as I know, this was originally introduced as a Canadian-only bottling, and I believe it still is.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: There’s definitely some bourbon touches here! There’s plums, green grapes, and some orange blossom – it’s light and slightly floral. At times the orange in it reminded me of orange creamsicles. In the background we have glimpses of rye, and there’s some dried apricot, along with a bit of charcoal and some lemon, and, interestingly, cucumber. Despite being light, it’s still quite rich.

Taste: The lightness of the nose carries through to the taste. Yet, it’s still quite sharp. There’s some green grape, apricot, marula fruit, and peach – with many hints reminding you of bourbon. There’s also some light smoke and a little trickle of spice. It is quite balanced and I enjoy how it is subtly rich amidst the light body – it would be easy to just keep drinking this. It is wonderful – but could benefit from a bit more complexity and depth . The sweetness, however, is just about right for this one. I never noticed this until a side by side tasting of other crown royals, but there are very big sherry aromas that come from the nose – it’s almost all I could smell in the side-by-side tasting! It had the light-apple like nature of fino sherry and the caramel, oxidized flavour of oloroso sherry.

Finish: It’s light and grainy, with a touch of green grape and nutmeg, and some oak with a bit of vanilla eventually. There’s a bit of spice and the finish overall is quite light and bright.

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

Value: High. On the better side of whiskies you can get for $40.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

I always liked this whisky. It now carries a 10 year old age statement – crown royal has informed me that the whisky was always 10 years old they just hadn’t put an age statement on it. It certainly tastes the same.

The base for this is the batch corn base whisky at crown royal, a luscious yet light corn whisky with a nice clean flavour. I always like tastes of the batch corn, if I can ever find them. I’ve written about this more in the post on crown royal distillates here. I would love to see an old version of it.

The nose is clean, with light fruits – characteristic green grape, apple, vanilla, prunes, blanched almonds, and a dry spiciness. The balance of dried and fresh fruits, when combined with the spiciness – is incredible. It is a classical Canadian style, and one that I quite like – lightly sweet, spicy and complex with fruit top notes and a drying finish. This version, though, is much more elegant and refined than many other whiskies in that style.

The finish is quite nice – lightly fruity, full of spices, and light grain.

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

Value: high at $43


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.


Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection French Oak Cask Finished Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image.

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image.

ABV
40%
Aging
Finished for six months in Virgin French Oak Casks
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

Here is another Crown Royal finish - another crown royal which has been finished in a French oak cask - but this is no cognac or wine cask, rather, it’s a virgin French oak cask which lends a very different character. The release is once again focused on the US market and isn’t available in Canada where it is produced.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019 Noble Collectoin

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

French oak, indeed! Toasted and rich oak seems to dominate the nose, but, of course, as a crown royal we have lots of layers: a nice thread of floral and vegetal rye, light creaminess, dill, and confectionary notes are present also. A lot more oak than typical for a Crown – but it isn’t a rich bourbon oak, much more like the new oak finishes which are increasingly common in Canadian and Scotch Whisky.

The palate has a nice kick of spicy oak, and grain underneath. Tannins, vanilla, butterscotch, toasted fennel, green cardamom, and clove are all in the mix. The finish is sweet, herbal, and lightly tannic – lots of baking spices, white pepper, prune, and grapefruit pith.

Very different than the wine barrel finish, which, although French oak also, is a lot softer and fruitier. The wine finish is also a bit deeper and more complex, with a fairly big wine character. I know the palate is going towards oak, but this one seems to be at the loss of some of the complexity of the spirit. It’s similar to what Wiser’s has been doing with their Pike Creek 21 YO last year, or seasoned oak.

Quite enjoyable. I’m glad that the noble collection continues to provide a diverse set of releases.

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

Value: Average. Around $80 CAD isn’t great for this, but it’s still a decent whisky for the price when compared against the whisky category as a whole.


Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection Blender's Mash 13 Years Old by Jason Hambrey

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image. Note that this is the wine barrel finish - the bottle is the same as the blender’s mash.

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image. Note that this is the wine barrel finish - the bottle is the same as the blender’s mash.

ABV
45%
Aging
13 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
64% Corn, 31.5% Rye, 4.5% Malted Barley
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

This whisky highlights the column-distilled, rye-heavy mashbill that is matured in new oak which Crown Royal makes - the process is very much the same as that used to make straight bourbons, with a mashbill, a column still, and new white oak casks. This is an older version of the Blender’s Mash (“Bourbon Mash”) released earlier this year by Crown Royal.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Noble Collection 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Clean and fruity – with rich rye, corn, and oak notes. Much cleaner, richer, and tightly held together, and more elegant, than the regular blender’s/bourbon mash. The nose is surprisingly elegant – not many bourbon style whiskies are so. It also is closer to a bourbon in taste profile than the blender’s mash.

Back to the nose…brown cardamom, clove, rich oak, dried chilli, cacao, corn husks, maple sugar, and ketchup chips! The palate has rich corn and wood, and has a sharp set of spice. Also there we have rich oak, prunes, dried apricots, clove, toffee, creamy oak, and fall marshes. Caramel and toffee really grows. As does oak and char.

The finish has a bit of tobacco and is drying. Lots of dried fruit, oak, and baking spices, too. Brilliant whisky.

Ever so slightly tannic, but I quite like it. I like it when whiskies play close to the line of too much bitterness and tannin for balance.

Easily on my favorite of the year list. Last year’s release was also exceptionally good (as was the year’s before) – great! If anyone thinks Crown can only blend whisky of different mashbills, they are missing this. But they are continuing to get a bit better…one of my favourite Crown Royals ever.

I’ve had this mashbill at cask strength – it is absolutely awesome. If they released a cask strength version at this age I’d be over the moon. If I’m on a wish list, I’d also take a few vattings of their favorite barrels of coffee rye at cask strength too!

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Just an awesome whisky. My second favourite of over a hundred whiskies that I judged blind this year at the Canadian Whisky Awards (behind Wiser’s 35).

Value: Very high, based on ~$82.


Review: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
90% Rye Blend
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

Crown Royal has a number of different whiskies which are produced – 5 in fact. There are two base corn whiskies, and three different flavoring whiskies, two of which are high rye recipes (from which this whisky is crafted), and another of which is a bourbon style whisky (the Hand Selected Single Barrel).

This whisky was Jim Murray's top whisky in the world in 2015. This created a lot of buzz, but many people don't even know where this award came from (or what it means) and consequently are very dissapointed with this whisky because they expect something else, drink this too quickly, or just don't like the profile.

There’s no best whisky in the world. Every palate is different, often surprisingly so. Jim Murray, expert and experienced though he is, is one man and his awards come from himself alone. If you are ever tasting a number of fabulous whiskies with friends, people often have different favorites – suprisingly so. If any of us were to taste all the whiskies Jim Murray did this year, the chance of any of us picking the same whisky as him to be our top is miniscule. So, yes, it’s an achievement, and shows that the whisky has the stamp of approval of a very experienced taster, but it doesn’t mean at all that you’ll love it. I know many who love the whisky (I do), and also know of many who have picked it up in a rush after the award and been dissapointed.

Also, this doesn't encapsulate Canadian whisky, so don't define Canadian Whiksy by one experience of this. While the publicity is probably good for Canadian whisky – some things haven’t been good. Jim Murray’s love for Alberta Premium has probably not been good for Canadian whisky – I have tasted over 5 different batches of Alberta Premium, and been indifferent to it. Many, excited for a whisky rated 96.5/100, flock to the whisky as their defining experience of Canadian whisky – to walk away disappointed. I can say, with many other laymen and experts, that Alberta Premium wouldn’t be in our top list of Canadian whiskies at all. If that’s your experience with Northern Harvest Rye, don’t give up on Canadian whisky – there’s lots of great whisky to discover.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L5240 N5 13:53

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Nose: Very fruity, with both a bit of a fruity rose wine and a bourbon profile. As I said, very fruity – fresh and dried blueberries, fresh and dried cherries, peaches, guavas, pineapple, dried apricot, and a bit of a candied fruit character as well like candied mango and candied pineapple, and hard tropical and berry candies, dried apricot….there are wisps of bourbon too, mint, oak, vanilla, honey, and light earthiness. And, as well, spices – cumin, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Yet, this is not a heavy winter rye! But rather a lighter spring one. Water brings out the nose even more, too, and more of a floral nature comes in.

Taste: Surprisingly tannic, and now the rye comes in full force with its herbal essence – arugula, tobacco, jasmine tea, all with a pretty bright berry-like fruitiness as you might find in a fruity cigar. After tasting, I picked up a lot more of these notes in the nose. The rye presentation is quite clean, and works well amidst the light fruit, surprisingly enough. It reminds me, in effect, of the trappist beer Chimay Extra Strong (the little blue bottle – a fabulous beer!) in its balance between heavy grain and bright fruit. The mouthfeel is medium – not super thick, but not watery. Very well done.

Finish: Dried apricot, black tea, jasmine, raw ground almonds, with a slightly sour profile and a bit of a peppery bite. The tannins take their toll, and the rye fades quickly – this is the weakest part of the whisky, but it’s still very good.

Conclusion: There you go folks – I’m very pleasantly surprised by this. I expected something better than the standard Crown Royal, but wasn’t expecting something this good. This whisky is now my top budget whisky, sitting alongside the likes of Forty Creek Copper Pot, Lot no. 40, and Gooderham & Worts – very good company. The match between the complex fruitiness (I rarely find a whisky with such complex fruit packed in it!) and the heavier herbal rye and spice is brilliant, and continues to impress upon subsequent tastings. Quite a bit different, and significantly better, than the standard Crown Royal – not nearly as dry or harsh. Highly recommended – and, also, $30.

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

Value: Very high. Awesome whisky for a cheap price ($35).


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Lots of floral and fruity notes, with a touch of spice on the nose. Lilacs, rose petals, bubblegum, menthol, clove, and rich, tangy dried fruit notes. The palate is easy, still dominated with fruit yet having a growing, spicy vegetal characteristic with black pepper, lilacs, and clove.

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

Value: Very high. Awesome whisky for a cheap price ($35).