Crown Royal French Oak Cask Finished

Maker: Crown Royal, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada (Diageo)

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Photo courtesy of Diageo.

Style: Toast French oak cask finished Canadian blend.

Age: NAS (at least 3 y/o)

ABV: 40%

Michigan State Minimum: $70 (MSRP: $60)

Note: Noble collection series

Thanks to Lisa Wendling and Diageo for the sample.

Appearance: Medium copper.

Nose: French oak, burnt orange peel, pine resin, creamed corn, grains of paradise.

Palate: Subtle. Custard, toasted oak, vanilla, cinnamon.

Finish: Cut lumber, burn.

Parting words: Despite mocking Diageo and lionizing Vijay Mallya on Twitter for years, the fine folks at Diageo graciously sent me a sample of Crown Royal French Oak Cask Finished Canadian Whiskey.

I’m not a great fan of the regular CR or the special deluxe, but I have enjoyed several of the other expressions, like the Blender’s Mash and Northern Harvest Rye. This is another good one. The French oak (sourced from the Vosges) is not overwhelming and mixes with the classic roasted grain flavors of Canadian whisky to produce pleasant potpourri aromas. Unfortunately, like many Canadian whiskies, the palate doesn’t deliver on the promise of the nose. An extra 5% ABV would probably help in that regard. Still, it’s worth the MSRP, though the Michigan price is pushing it. Crown Royal French Oak Cask Finished is recommended.

 

 

Crown Royal Blender’s Mash

Maker: Crown Royal, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada. (Diageo)20190607_210110.jpg

Style: Canadian Blend

Age: NAS

ABV: 40%

Michigan state minimum: $20

Parting words: CR Blender’s Mash began life as CR Bourbon Mash but Diageo, which never seems to remember that it owns bourbon brands, was forced to change the name due to bourbon’s protected legal status. This decision was right and good, in my not particularly humble opinion. The decision was made after the labels were already printed and affixed to bottles, so if you enjoy collecting things that nobody cares about, try to seek out some of those bottles for your collection.

At any rate, Blender’s Mash is a Canadian blend starring one of CR Deluxe’s constituent whiskies. It has a bourbon-like recipe with 65% corn and 31% rye (malt makes up the rest). The result is a very bourbon-like product. It’s rather mild neat or on the rocks but it mixes surpringly well. It makes great Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. In Coke or in a Boulevardier it gets a little lost, but is still pleasant.

I don’t enjoy the standard Crown Royal or the Special Reserve, but this is enjoyable. It’s more refined and sweeter even if it is underpowered. $20 is $5 less than regular Crown and $25 less than Special Reserve, so this is a good QPR selection if you’re into that sort of thing. Crown Royal Blender’s Reserve is recommended.

Crown Royal, Tippins Hand Selected Barrel

Maker: Crown Royal Distillery, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada (Diageo).20171110_194508.jpg

Style: Canadian rye.

Age: NAS

ABV: 51.5%

Michigan state minimum: $55

Appearance: Light copper.

Nose: Alcohol, roast corn on the cob, bubble gum.

Palate: Grape bubble gum, alcohol, touch of oak.

Finish: Aniseed candy, burn.

Mixed: Adds a fruity undertone to Manhattans, perfect Manhattans, and Old Fashioneds. Was also able to stand up to Benedictine when I used it in a Monte Carlo. Be sure to account for high proof if mixing this. It can sneak up on you.

Parting words: Crown Royal gets trashed a lot by whisky enthusiasts, and I think rightly. Crown Royal and Crown Royal Reserve are both garbage. I did like the Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, though. It is a solid value, if you enjoy Canadian style rye.

This whisky is closer to Northern Harvest Rye than the standard Crown Royal or the Reserve. The barrels used for these retailer/hand selected barrel CRs are flavoring whiskies. Like Scotch and Irish blends, Canadian blended whiskies are blends of relatively flavorless base whisky with bold flavoring whisky, often but not always made with rye.

Tippins is located on Saline road, on the outskirts of Ann Arbor Michigan. They’re known for good service, good whiskey selections and owner Dominic Aprea’s, uh, let’s say “eccentric” online persona. Aside from an irritating snub on FB, I haven’t had any negative experiences with him, although I have witnessed some strange online behavior from him. At any rate, the man knows how to pick a barrel. As with all CR offerings, the price is high, but $55 isn’t too bad for over 50% ABV. Crown Royal, Tippins Hand Selected Barrel is recommened.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Updated 11/19 to include tasting notes! Sorry!

Maker: Crown Royal, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada (Diageo)20161118_190337.jpg

Style: Blended Canadian Rye

Age: NAS

ABV: 45%

Michigan state minimum: $32

Appearance: Medium copper

Nose: Bubblegum, spearmint, alcohol, dried wildflowers

Palate: Full bodied. Grape jelly, maple sugar, cut hay.

Finish: Grape soda, oak, butterscotch.

Parting words: Whisky writer Jim Murray proclaimed Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye his 2015 Whisky of the Year, to much internet snickering and mockery. His announcements are usually met with snark, but in 2015 it seemed to be stronger than usual. Many online whisky heads found it laughable that Murray chose a $30 or so Canadian Whisky from Crown Royal for his big award. The whisky itself got lost in the shuffle.

That whisky is good. It’s not a world beater, but at $32 it doesn’t need to be. It’s unlike Alberta Premium (or its kin). It tastes like something between that and an Kentucky style rye. Sweet, with a little spice and a little herbal aroma on the back.As I said in my last review the days of good rye for cheap is over, largely. Stuff like this is as good as it’s going to get in the near future. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is recommended.

Crown Royal Reserve

Distiller: Crown Royal, Gimili, Manitoba, Canada (Diageo)wpid-2015-09-11-20.50.45.jpg.jpeg

Age: NAS (supposedly older than the standard Crown Royal)

ABV: 40%

Michigan state minimum: $44

Appearance: Dark copper (likely colored)

Nose: Alcohol, spoiled onion, discount deli ham, ghost pepper.

Palate: Full bodied and mildly sweet. Not much going on other than sweetness and a touch of caramel. No oak anywhere in sight.

Finish: Light anise flavor followed by mild heat.

Mixed: Due to the limited amount I had available of this whisky, I didn’t try Crown Royal Reserve mixed, except for with some soda. It was nearly impossible to taste in that application, but that’s probably for the best.

Parting words: I reviewed the standard Crown Royal a couple years ago and I didn’t like it. I was hoping the reserve would be better. I imagined something more rounded and refined. That is not what I got. Crown Royal Reserve is even worse than Crown Royal. The nose has gone from disgusting to putrid and CR’s grainy character has been replaced with a total lack of any sort of character beyond the garbage (literally) nose. The only pleasant part of drinking this was the delicate, but flavorful finish, but it doesn’t even come close to being worth the silly price.

In the interest of being helpful, here’s a list of “reserve” or equivalent Canadian blends that are cheaper and better than CRR: Black Velvet Reserve ($13), Canadian Club Reserve ($18), Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve ($27), and Gibson’s 12 ($28). Not to mention Alberta Dark Batch ($27), CC Sherry Cask ($22), Collingwood ($30) and Tangle Ridge ($18).

Don’t buy this. Crown Royal Reserve is not recommended.

Crown Royal

Maker: Crown Royal, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada. (Diageo)Crown-Royal

Style: Blended Canadian Whisky

Age: NAS (at least 3 y/o by Canadian law)

ABV: 40%

Michigan State Minimum: $25/750 ml.

Appearance: Pale copper with some spotty necklacing.

Nose: Harsh and grainy. Burnt creamed corn, a sharp shot of rye, wood varnish.

On the palate: Full-bodied and sweet. Clotted cream, a touch of caramel, slight bite of alcohol and wood tannins.

Finish: Grape Nuts Cereal, a bit of caramel and then it quickly fades.

Mixed: Good with ginger ale and in an Old Fashioned. OK in a Manhattan and in an old cocktail recipe I dug up called a Frontenac (Canadian Whisky, Grand Marnier and bitters). It doesn’t add much to either of the latter, except perhaps some body, but it doesn’t hurt them either.

Parting words: Crown Royal has all the hallmarks of very young whiskey: cereal, full body and sharpness. This is most pronounced in the nose, which is by far the least appealing aspect of this whisky. It borders on nauseating. The rest of it isn’t so bad, just dull.

As a mixing whisky it does well as noted above, but it is hampered by the low proof. There is also a Crown Royal Black at 90 proof that may be a better option for Manhattans and similar cocktails but given the nose, it might not be a bad thing to cover that mess up with mixers.

My biggest beef is the price. $25 is too much for something this young and brash. Canadian Club 100 is $17 and comes in at 50% ABV, and the 12 y/o CC Classic comes in at $23 and sips as well as it mixes. A minor beef is the gaudy, ridiculous bottle and packaging. The bottle resembles something that might contain perfume belonging to an elderly French prostitute and the purple gold trimmed felt sack that it comes in goes right into the garbage as soon as it’s purchased. Overall, Crown Royal is mildly recommended for cocktails, but not recommended as a sipping whisky.