By Richard Thomas
Crown Royal Black is essentially the first step up the Crown Royal line ladder. It has the same bottle, same faux velvet bag, and a slightly different label, with whisky that is billed as a more robust rendition of the Crown Royal blend. That more robust flavor is the intended result of increasing the proportion of whiskies aged in charred, new oak barrels (i.e. bourbon style) in the blend, as well as stepping up the proof of the liquid to 90 (45% abv).
The coloring on Crown Royal Black is a deep amber, leaning decidedly into brown. The nose is a little oaky and very vanilla, with a hefty measure of rye-driven cinnamon, ginger and pepper.
The texture doesn’t live up to the robust billing, being quite thin and watery. That said, the flavor is nice and simple, in a place where bourbonesque vanilla meets rye ginger and cookie spices, with a little dark fruit and caramel butterscotch added for good measure. It’s not deep or complex, but because of that I can see it as a sound choice for serving on ice.
You might need that ice on a warm summer day (or you might not if you are in Canada), because the finish is very warm and lengthy. Like the rest of the whisky’s experience, it’s a simple, plain finish, but it has some heat and takes its time in winding down.
Crown Royal Black averages out at about $32 a fifth in the U.S. Since they very point of Crown Royal Black is to take a Canadian blended whisky and tilt it towards something more like bourbon, you would probably do better to just buy bourbon because there are bourbons out there better and cheaper.