Gateway Series #11: Crown Royal

Crown Royal Fine De Luxe Blended Canadian Whisky
40% ABV, 80 Proof
Around $25, Widely Available

What The Distiller Says:
The distinct blend of 50 full-bodied whiskies has captivated senses for 70 years and continues to be a staple of our portfolio. Though created in 1939 to celebrate the visit to Canada of King George VI and his Queen Elizabeth, Crown Royal remains approachable and unpretentious to the everyday drinker.

What Matt Says:
Nose: Caramel, hazelnuts, vanilla, and mint. There is also something sour lingering in the background (smells like stomach acid). Water opens up the rye notes (mint and spice) to create something quite lovely.
Palate: Not bad upfront, with toffee sweetness, but turns woody and bitter. Although Richard Paterson suggests holding whiskies “long in the mouth,” I would not suggest doing that with this particular dram. It becomes thoroughly unpleasant, not unlike chewing the shrapnel from a barrel explosion. While water helps the nose, it kills the flavor (which may be a good thing).
Finish: Smooth and oak-y with a hint of mint. Water kills the mint.
Comments: Supplying Redneck high school girls with low cost purses for 70 years, Crown Royal is probably as known for it’s purple velvet bag as for the whisky inside. It is a shame really, Crown Royal is actually capable of producing good whiskies. The standard expression is not one of them though. It is not the worst whisky in the Gateway Series, but I cannot recommend it.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says:
Nose: The nose seems surprisingly alcoholic for an 80 proof whisky. I get fruitiness on the nose reminiscent of fruit brandies. There is also just a hint of nuttiness that I can’t quite place.
Palate: Peppered oak lollypops? Seriously. Sickly candy sweetness on the front of the palate. As the drink settles into the palate it turns to peppery oak. Not in a good way. The longer you hold it on the palate, the worse it gets. Definitely drink it quickly.
Finish: The finish starts out not too bad but the burn kicks in and punches above it’s 40% ABV. The after taste is rough, woody, and unpleasant.
Comments: My early experiences with Crown Royal really turned me off to the drink altogether. That said, I tried to give Crown the benefit of the double. For my trouble I found all the things that originally turned me off of Canadian Whisky. The only way I’ve found that I can tolerate Crown Royal is in a Red Snapper.
Rating: Probably Pass

Overall Rating: Probably Pass

Crown Royal is really our first major departures from one of the whiskey writers we both most identify with, John Hansell. He gives standard Crown an 88/100. I can’t fathom how. It just goes to show you that everyone’s palate is as individual as their fingerprints.

3 thoughts on “Gateway Series #11: Crown Royal”

  1. Hi Guys. Hey, I appreciate that you connect with my reviews (okay, well most of them…). Thanks!

    I wonder: are there any “traditional” Canadian whiskies that you like? (Forty Creek doesn’t count here, because it’s not made in the traditional way for Canadian whisky.) My fellow whisky writer, who I respect, Jim Murray scored it similar to me (he gave it an 87). I wonder what attributes we’re finding that you aren’t?

    Keep doing what you’re doing, my friends!

  2. I have yet to find a traditional Canadian whisky that I really enjoy. Canadian Mist Blended whisky is not terrible, but it is a little bland. To be fair, we tried minis of the Crown Royal. I’m not sure that has much to do with it.

    The “subtle fruits, and delicate floral notes” are lost on me. Vanilla, I get. Mostly, what I get is oak though. I’ll give another try sometime. It wouldn’t be the first time a whisky didn’t work for me on the first try.

  3. Honestly, I may be a little biased from past experiences with CR and I’ve owned up to that in past postings. I generally find most entry level traditional Canadian whiskies to be either have way too much oak or be very bland. I’ve had some of CR’s other bottlings and I like them a good bit more. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have nearly the attunement to some of these characteristics that you guys do, or even Matt for that matter. I’m more the everyman taster 😉 but I’m not getting the fruit or floral notes on the palate either. Typically I just don’t like these whiskies straight. That said, some of the best cocktails I’ve had in recent years were made with Canadian whisky. To your point John, it may be a personal preference thing. There is no other category of whisk(e)y that I’ve had as much trouble with as Canadian.

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