Gimli

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 Blender's Select Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Crown Royal Blender's Select.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!


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L73042S00114 32 5ISI 1347A50053

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

This came down in price to $45, which made me rather eager to try it again. It’s already one of my favourite Canadian whiskies in Ontario, but isn’t nearly as good as the single barrels they used to release (sadly). Some of those were among the best whiskies I’ve tasted. But, that was good in part because it was bottled at a higher proof which helps balance out the sweetness of this whisky.

But here we have it on the nose – a whisky like no other. Rich, creamy, confectionary character, stewed peaches, stewed apricots, vanilla, butterscotch, oak, icing sugar, and a really nice presentation of corn. The palate follows suit, with the creamy oak playing a huge role and lightly supplying tannins, to a long, creamy, sweet finish. And, that banana cream pie.

My favourite dessert whisky of all time. It’s about on par with sweetness to a bourbon, but it’s the confectionary characters that just embellish every ounce of woody sweetness in this. Also, along with the single barrel, one of the most unique whiskies I’ve ever encountered (and I’ve encountered quite a few!).

Oh, if crown royal would ever bottle single barrels at cask strength of this, their bourbon mash, and their rye (and their batch corn at older ages, too, but that need not be at high proof)….

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very High. $45 is great for this.


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.