Gimli

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 Hand Selected Single Barrel Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
51.5%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
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.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I review to date get this recommendation or higher). One of the great Canadian whiskies.

Value: High. A great price for a great whisky!


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.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). What a single barrel! One of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted.

Value: Very High. One of the best Canadian whiskies I’ve ever tasted coming in at $70 is quite something. Bottling vary, as this is a single barrel product, but the good ones are awesome value.


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.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I review to date get this recommendation or higher). The good barrels here truly represent some of the best Canadian whisky on the planet.

Value: Very High. A great price for a great whisky.


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...

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I review to date get this recommendation or higher). One of the great Canadian whiskies.

Value: High. A great price for a great whisky.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Very floral, light, and dessert-like: Banana, wood, toffee, icing sugar, cedar, and a rich grain-like oiliness. Wood smoke and coconut cream pie, too, on the rich nose. The palate does not disappoint, with rich grain notes yet retaining all the richness of the fruit and spice. Yet, with all this, lightly tangy too. Brilliant.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Not as good as any of the other Crown Single Barrels I’ve tried, but it’s still quite excellent and I still would give a hearty recommendation for this one.

Value: Decent. These are generally high to very high bottlings, but sometimes a given barrel might not yield quite the quality of others, as in this case.


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 XO Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
Finished in cognac casks
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

This whisky was introduced in what seems to be a replacement for the cognac finished Cask no. 16. It is created from over 50 whiskies which are blended together and finished in cognac casks. So, why 50 unique whiskies? That’s a lot of work for a single regular product, isn’t it? This is basically because there’s so much variation of production at the Crown Royal plant in Gimli, Manitoba – there are a lot of different whiskies produced between 5 different recipes, 3 types of wood (newly charred, ex-bourbon barrels, and refill/reused barrels), alongside a wide range of aging length. The name, “XO” (extra old) , is a tribute to the cognac classification for their spirits, indicating the highest grade of cognac in terms of age.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L40932N001315251SL143

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: A hefty bit of rye comes through the nose, interestingly enough because that wasn’t my first impression with Cask no. 16, which I assumed this would emulate. Not so, this is a bit darker and, initially, I thought, less fruity, but after successive tastings I am not sure. There’s a good bit of maple syrup – it’s quite prominent –  it keeps reminding me of an overly crisp waffle soaked in maple syrup especially with some of the grains coming through. Vanilla comes through, and a bit of orange – overall it’s a bit of a dense nose, but it does lighten up as it sits. There are interesting spicy notes – green cardamom (quite prominent), cinnamon, ginger, and toasted black pepper – indicative of the French Oak which the cognac casks were made from. There’s also some nice light grape notes which tend to go quite well with Crown Royal.

Taste: After the pretty dense and dark nose I was surprised to find a light-feeling and delicate whisky enter my mouth. Starts off with some rye emphasis before some light fruit and vanilla come through with some bourbon notes before the end turns to oak and spice. A very interesting movement in this whisky is that it seems to start off quite light before upping both in flavour and feel until the end which feels quite dense and a bit dry. Towards the end there’s a bit of an oxidized sherry-type flavour too. Very nice, I must say – the main knack is that it is just a bit too dry, I think, without something to counteract it.

Finish: Mainly spices – ginger and green cardamom, with some cinnamon mixed in too. There’s a bit of oak in the background and a light orange citrusy background as well, and a bit of nuttiness. Nicely done. It’s slightly dry, but not too dry, and I like finishes that are a bit on the dry side.

I quite enjoy this, and I like this a fair bit more than the Cask no. 16 bottlings that I’ve tried. It’s perhaps most surprising to me how rye-forward the profile is – I expected a bit more of a hybrid with this one. But the fruit, spiciness, and complexity do good work in this one.

Score: 88/100

Value: Average to high. Quite decent for $75. This is a particularly good batch, which puts it on the upper end of average - at the threshold of high.


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L42812N00114 4451SL143

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Grain and spice heavy, candied orange peel, cola, lime, rich oak, and apple. On the palate, caramel, vanilla, macadamia, and white chocolate. Spice and tannins are also at play, with some excellent complex fruit on the finish.

While still very nice, it doesn't have the depth of the previous bottle I own (above), which shows more spice, complexity, and particularly a better integration of rancio and a bit more of a dried fruit character rather than candied fruit.

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

Value: Average. Decent for $75.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Apple, oak, brown sugar, nuts, green grape, fennel, and a variety of dried fruit come together on a slightly tangy and spicy whisky balanced with pleasant brown sugar and sweet potato in the mix.

Still good, but not what it was when it first came out and the oak, finish, and spices shone through quite uniquely.

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

Value: Average. Decent for $75.


Review: Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

This whisky is bottled from select barrels from the Diageo plant in Gimli, Manitoba, where all Crown Royal products are produced. Less than 1% of supply goes into this blend – the barrels are hand-picked by Crown Royal master blender Andrew MacKay, and then blended together. The word “reserve” is often overused in wine and whisky, and may denote simply the standard bottling or spirit, which is too bad. In the case of this whisky, it is actually a reserve, and in my opinion one of the best of the Crown Royal range.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 0713A51231

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Creamy, rich, and full. green melon, honey, vanilla, with many a touch of bourbon. There’s caramel, a touch of grassy and dusty rye, stewed apricots, loads of plum, fresh cherry – it’s quite beautiful. It’s slightly sour the same way that some bourbons are, with the slightly tart stewed fruit. There’s some nice maple and oakiness, as well. My only qualm is at times a bit of a slightly bitter corn whiff which comes from time to time. Wonderfully fresh, though.

Taste: Thick, sweet entry, with lots of caramel and warming rye spice held in check by the richness and sweetness of the surrounding whisky. There’s a distinct touch of dried corn at the end and sweet dried apricots, and it finishes in a flourish of developing spices and heat, and it’s a broad range of them – ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cacao…with some sweet vanilla lingering in the background. Beautiful balance. It’s deep, full, and with great feeling in the mouth.

Finish: Mouth-coating and flavourful. There’s lots of spice as above, which fades to wood as the mouth dries. There’s some grassy rye slightly in the background with, of course, some vanilla and fruit. It remains coating the mouth with a slight bite of spice, clove in particular, before opening up to reveal some slight maltiness and residual corn which lasts for quite a long time.

Distinctly crown royal – it’s the basic blend, done better, and it is wonderful. Complex, very sip-worthy, full, and elegant – this is a wonderful gift with the Presentation, approachability, and complexity. this makes me want to come back for more, more, and more… certainly a Canadian which is pretty wonderful to sip.

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

Value: Average. A decent buy for the price ($60).


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 0713A51231

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Apple, pear, bourbon, nuttiness, some oak and orange peel with some nice earthiness balanced with some vanilla and the fruit. On the palate, a rich toffee undercurrent and notes of nuts, pears, apples, oak, and spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of allspice - all doing their thing pretty well. Very enjoyable.

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

Value: Average. A decent buy for the price ($60).


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Elegant and spicy floral characteristics sit overtop a clean base. All sorts of baking spices combining with all sorts of fruit – apple, peach, pear, white grape – with a lightly buttery base. Elegant, clean, and complex. A pleasant set of drying spices which build up towards the nice finish.

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

Value: Average. A decent buy for the price ($60).


Review: Crown Royal Black Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

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: Crown Royal Fine Deluxe Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

This is Canada’s number 1 selling whisky – and it does have a story. Sam Bronfman, who originally oversaw the production of the whisky, waited 25 years to export to his largest export market (the US), to ensure he would have enough mature stock to keep up with demand. This blend was originally crafted to mark the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. It was supposed to be a whisky fit for royalty, with the original stock, apparently, including whiskies well over twenty years old.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: It’s quite clean, with a slight bourbon aroma – some of that stewed fruit and caramelized oak , vanilla, and then a whisp of sour corn. The light oaky vanilla is very nice, though. It also smells quite grainy, and is light (at times) to the point that I find myself sniffing rather than just letting the aromas come. The stewed fruits seem to come out a bit more, and there are aromas of prunes as well. There’s a fair bit of sourness and almost a slight bitterness in the nose which I find detracts from it, however.

Taste: A light vanilla entry buffeted by some thick corn before the vanilla comes through and a touch of drying ginger comes on at the end. It’s quite light – not hard in the spice or the rye department, but certainly has lots of fruits in line with the nose – the prunes and light flavour of dried apricots. Vanilla in this one plays center stage, and it’s light and reasonably clean. There is a tiny bit of sourness with a citrus character like slightly watered down orange. There are certainly many pleasant bourbon notes as well.

Finish: There’s a touch of dry spice on the finish with an almost salty character, and very light oak spice with a touch of acidity and a bit of stewed fruit. It’s quite light, and I even get a tiny wisp of smokiness from the char in the wood. There isn’t much that is negative, but you have to search for flavour and the finish is a bit dull and short. However, it does coat the mouth nicely and cause your mouth to water, which is always great.

It’s very common as a mixer, and it’s no surprise as to why – it is light, has a simple and versatile flavour profile, and won’t make cocktails run out of balance if the proportions aren’t quite right. Enjoyable to sip, but not one I’d be excited or look forward to getting into. This is a quintessential Canadian whisky, with a distinctive character with the corn creaminess and flashes of rye that is present throughout the entire range. The nose would be quite a bit better if it had a bit less sour and dull nature, but I am often pleasantly surprised at the quality of these “simple” mixers…quite enjoyable!

Value: Average. Ok for the price, which is pretty cheap ($25)


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Subdued on the nose, but with some spice - ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, musty oak, dried apricot, milk chocolate coated nuts, and very light apple. The nose takes time to come out, but then it is quite vibrant. Sweet and tame on the palate, with some vanilla and almonds which fade into a creamy yet tannic finish with prunes, dried berries, and vanilla powder.

Value: Average. Ok for the price, which is pretty cheap ($25)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Fruity and buttery, with pear, guava, brown sugar, butterscotch, vanilla, and apple. The palate shows depth and a nice integration of vegetal, floral, spicy, and dried fruit notes. That’s some blending! Light spices on the finish. Pleasant bourbon nuances throughout.

Value: Average. Ok for the price, which is pretty cheap ($25)


Review: Entrapment 25 Year Old Canadian Whisky (Orphan Barrel) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Crown Royal.

Image courtesy of Crown Royal.

ABV
41%
Aging
25 Yrs; Refill Barrels
Recipe
97% Corn, 3% Malted Barley
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

Orphan Barrel's first release of Canadian whisky from Diageo's Crown Royal distillery in Gimli. It is old - 25 years, and used the batch base whisky distilled at Crown Royal (for more, see my post on Crown Royal's Five Distillates). The batch base whisky is an intensely creamy corn whisky distilled in a column still and then distilled again in a copper kettle and column still (something like a column still sitting on top of a copper pot still).


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 0630

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

A creamy nose - lots of custard, coconut, white grape, vanilla, blueberry, corn husks, oak, light moalsses, and light earthy undertones. Lots of nice aged whisky note. Classic, rich, well-aged Canadian whisky. It may seem simple at first, but if you keep nosing you’ll notice layers of richness. The part that sets this whisky apart is the rich creaminess that you don’t find in the old corn whiskies from highwood (i.e. Ninety 20) or Wiser’s (18 year old, etc.).

The palate is full of those creamy notes, with some brilliant underpinning oak, custard, and creme-brulee. However, it isn’t sweet – don’t get me wrong. There’s a very slight tannic edge to it which is quite nice, though some may not like it. Very easy, and I actually like it with a splash of water in it, though it gets a bit light. The finish is lightly sweet and creamy, with a touch of bitterness and white pepper – vanilla, custard, blueberry, apple, and corn husks.  For those who like „smooth” whiskies, this is about as smooth as it gets. And it’s very rich.

I’ve seen some reviews of this from reviewers who favour big bourbon-flavours. It’s no surprise they aren’t high – this is a soft, long-aged corn whisky (nothing like a bourbon) which I greatly appreciate, and is a style which has become a favorite of mine as I have had more of it – subtlety abounds in such a style. It’s a whisky that favours slow, small sipping not quicker drinking.

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

Value: Low. Good whisky, but $200 is quite a price tag.

Note: I reviewed this whisky a few months ago, but it was from a sample which I suspected (rightfully) had oxidized a bit. I re-reviewed a fresh, proper sample here, hence the rating change.


Review: Gordon's London Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Gordon's Dry Gin.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Diageo

In 1830, Aeneas Coffey designed and thereafter patented his Coffey still - the first widely used continuous still. The consequences of this still were widespread, and gin saw the effects - the impurities in gin did not need to be covered up with sugar in the prominent Old Tom style of the time. Instead, a new gin was able to emerge, driven by the clean spirit of the Coffey Still - an unsweetened ("dry") and "strong" version of gin started to take hold - London Dry Gin. The wealthy classes of England gravitated to this gin, and the Victorian emphasis on health further promoted it. Old Tom faded, London Dry emerged - and dominated, for hundreds of years. One of the earliest big gin distilleries emerged in the midst of this popular wave of London Dry - a distillery founded by Alexander Gordon in 1769 in London. It is now the world's best selling London Dry Gin, and is even produced exclusively for the North American market in Canada - presumably at the Crown Royal distillery in Gimli, based on the bottling code.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L72552P00119:24 51SL143
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

Classic gin: clean, with juniper, lemon peel, white pepper – it is focused around juniper, which I like. Coriander plays a light background, but, overall, everything is held in balance. A touch of spicy, earthy bark too. The palate is clean, with lots of fresh, spicy coriander and a light juniper backbone. The spiciness is nice. Quick, light finish.


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

Crown Royal Blenders Select (2).jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
7-9 Yrs; Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
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!