Editor’s Note: This product was provided to us as a review sample by Crown Royal. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Last year it seemed like everyone was launching something-boozy-in-a-can. As one of the most reliable and ubiquitous blending whiskies at bars nationwide, it’s no surprise that Crown Royal joined the party. Their core lineup launched last March and includes a Whisky & Cola (their marketing webpage suggests you can avoid the prep and clean up by drinking these, which I guess means avoiding the hassle of opening a can of cola and a bottle of Crown Royal), Washington Apple, Peach Tea, and this Crown Royal Whisky Lemonade, a seasonal release.
Nicky Heckles, the Vice President, noted in a recent press release that: “The new Whisky Lemonade flavor is the latest innovation that fuses a familiar summertime staple with the boldness of our whisky, providing a fresh take on ready-to-drink cocktails.” It’s available in seventeen states including Oregon as well as California, Florida, and Texas (sorry, New York!).
Crown Royal is one of the most recognizable Canadian whiskey brands worldwide. Now owned by Diageo, the original Crown Royal was launched to commemorate King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s tour of Canada in 1939. Noted for its smoothness, Crown Royal is probably behind the bar in every decently stocked restaurant you’ve visited. It’s the whisky I associate with mixed drinks and does a damn fine job at it.
The can is a step up in a design sense from the others. Its wrapped label is textured, a nice touch that elevates the experience. I could see cans of these with a decorative paper straw at a mid-price resorts, a fancy BBQ, and even a bachelor/bachelorette party. The marketing website’s lack of any information, even a tasting note, leaves a sour impression, pun intended. With no information to go on, your guess is as good as mine for determining the ingredient ratios of the finished product.
Tasting Notes: Crown Royal Whisky Lemonade
Vital Stats: Age time, vessel, and mash bill not indicated. 7% ABV, SRP $14.99/four pack of 12 ounce cans.
Appearance: Pale yellow with a slight cloudiness. Slow bubbles.
Nose: Poured into a tasting glass, this has aromas of Meyer lemon zest, raw oatmeal, lemon candy, and sea salt. It smells faintly metallic.
Palate: I was surprised and pleased to find this was a lightly sparkling beverage. The bubbles add texture and lift to a cocktail that can be rather cloying. And not cloying is great descriptor of this beverage. I expect this cocktail to verge on saccharine, with an overwhelming puckery-ness to balance out the sugar. This is not that. This tastes more like lemon tea than lemonade, with very little acidity on the palate. This indicates to me that there’s no lemon juice here, just lemon flavor. I guess when life gives you lemon flavor, just call it lemonade.
On the whiskey side, there’s more action. The Crown Royal comes through with its signature smooth, sweet-grain taste of freshly baked biscuits. This saves the drink: it tastes like there’s whiskey in it and that whiskey is delicious. For the best experience, I suggest breaking out the cutting board (sorry, no prep-saving here) and adding a lemon wedge. I think the lemon flavor is a bit overdone without the corresponding acidity.
This drink could be better balanced with some fresh lemon juice and a lot of fun with muddled mint leaves or a grenadine float. But as the complexity of my proposed methods for fixing this increases, I’m left wondering what the point is of canning such a basic cocktail. Worth the money? Probably not. I’d rather buy a bottle of Crown Royal to pair with lemonade of my choosing that’s as gourmet as my budget and time allows. Fortunately, what it lacks in lemonade taste it makes up for in whisky flavor and expertly controlled sweetness level.
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Suzanne Bayard struck out to the West Coast with her now husband almost a decade ago to explore the intersection of wine and policy in its world-class wine regions. She manages a Portland, OR bottle shop by day as the wine buyer and newsletter editor. She is also the Director...