Interesting to re-visit this one after so many years. Crown and ginger was one of the earliest drinks I ever cut my teeth on. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say the ginger ale was to mask the whisky, I will concede I never drank Crown neat. Why would I? It went down quite nicely with that ginger to bitter out a little of the sweetness.
Several years (and hundreds of whiskies) later, I find myself returning to Crown Royal. This time however, as a whisky lover and not simply a snot-nosed kid looking for a means to inebriation. So when one takes the ginger ale (or any other mix) out of the equation, how does Crown Royal hold up? Well…let’s just say I still can’t imagine sitting down to a glass of this served neat. It simply isn’t that kind of drink.
Crown Royal is a blended Canadian whisky produced in Gimli, Manitoba (as unlikely as that may seem) from corn, rye and barley distillate. The spirit is then aged in new white oak and what they refer to as ‘seasoned’ barrels. The whisky is sold with no age statement, and no amount of searching provided anything conclusive as to length of maturation. Apparently at one point it was sold as a 12 year old.
Enough of the history and detail. On to the glass…
First things first. If this is your first foray into Canadian whisky…do note…Crown Royal is absolutely atypical of the region. Both on the nose and palate you’ll find grains and bucketloads of corn vying for attention. The corn is loud and brash, almost bourbon-like in its intense sweetness. The big fruits are as loud as crashing cymbals and nearly drown out the more subdued rye notes in the background. There is a breath of sharp freshly cut wood and tart berry as well. A little spice and perhaps a touch of vanilla.
On arrival…waves of tongue-tingling sweet grains. Far too sweet. Not bad in terms of flavor, but a little too much sugar intensity. Surprisingly, the finish is a lot milder than one would expect from such a bold nose and palate. It fades to a pleasant fruity hum that has a slightly floral tail.
This is a quirky one, friends. Globally recognized, oft-revered and well-marketing by the team at Diageo, it is the best selling Canadian whisky in the world. Can’t help but wonder if that isn’t because of just how different it is from the rest of the field. Is it a whisky to drink neat? Hard to say, I suppose. For this guy…absolutely not.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt