By Debbie Shocair
Crown Royal, sometimes simply “CR,” has long been the number one selling Canadian whisky in the United States and one of the top selling whiskies in the world. I’m sure nearly all of us have at some point had one of their signature purple felt bags at one time or another.
This Canadian whisky whose brand was established as a nod to the royal visit by King George IV and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother, as in mother to Elizabeth II) in 1939, has kept up with modern times with a string of new releases. One example is the creative maturation used in Crown Royal’s Noble Collection, the second of which is the new Wine Barrel Finished Canadian Whisky. Sourcing about 80% of their grain from Manitoba and nearby areas, and using the limestone-filtered water from Lake Winnipeg, Crown has finished this limited-edition expression in medium toast, American oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from Paso Robles, California and bottled it at 81 proof.
In both another note of keeping up with the times and in the spirit of hoisting your dram to the environment, it’s nice to see that the fine folks at Crown Royal have worked very diligently to be extraordinarily green. Though their distillery is spread over some 360 acres at the edge of Lake Winnipeg, they have reduced their carbon emissions by 99% over the last ten years, reduced water utilization by 35%, and have “committed to a target of zero waste to landfill by 2020.” I think we could all drink to that.
On the nose, this whisky was very sweet, and rather unexpectedly so. High notes of vanilla and caramel, along with distinct aromas of candy corn.
Breaking the whisky with a ½ teaspoon of water brought out faint notes of hay and grass, but didn’t diminish the overall sweetness. The mouthfeel was just at the tip and under the tongue, which would be expected from an 81 proof spirit.
The relatively long finish was very enjoyable – rife with dark berry and leather, followed by hints of vanilla and candy corn, with a lingering sense of cream soda.
Overall, I thought this was a very good release coming from our lovely neighbors up north, and one of the best expressions from Crown Royal yet.
Though in limited release, their wine barrel finish should be widely available at around $60.