Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
You’re probably already familiar with Crown Royal. A household name for many years, they’re perhaps the first name that comes to most minds when they hear the words “Canadian whisky.” Yet few have actually sat down with the blend itself and examined it from an objective standpoint. Sure, it has the reputation, but does it have the flavor?
Let’s rewind a bit. To understand this famous whisky in its entirety, we must first make at least a cursory examination of its history. Luckily, there isn’t too much here to sift through. Unlike many Scotch distilleries with two- or three-hundred-year track records, Crown Royal came into being in 1939, a “mere” 84 years ago. The story goes that the royals King George VI and Queen Elizabeth made a visit to Canada in that year, and in preparation for their arrival Samuel Bronfman, president of Seagram’s, blended a special batch of whisky to gift them.
They say that all ten cases initially produced were consumed by the end of the monarchs’ train tour, though of course there is no possible way of verifying this claim. True or not, the public perception of the whisky made certain that when it was made available to the public, its popularity came fast and hard. Though only available in Canada initially, by 1964 the line had expanded availability across the southern border and again enjoyed an explosion of popularity—this time in the U.S.A.
Meanwhile, an Ontario production facility was opening in order to facilitate the expansion. Unfortunately, it closed in 1992 and all of Crown Royal’s product is now produced once more in the original location (the town of Gimli in Manitoba, right on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.) With 360 acres, 51 warehouses, 76 employees, and one landmark stillhouse, it’s quite the sizable operation. So sizable, in fact, that Crown Royal claims to have more barrels full of whisky onsite than there are residents of Gimli itself!
It’s also worth mentioning that Crown Royal has made public declarations of their commitment to sustainable, environmentally friendly business practices. According to their website, they have reduced carbon emissions by 99% over the past ten years, as well as reducing water usage in 2016 by 35%. That 35% may not seem like much in isolation, but in this context it accounts for 50,000,000 gallons—a worthy reduction! Also in 2016, Crown Royal’s waste to landfill numbers fell by 49%. These are remarkable, quantifiable steps in the right direction and, in my opinion, a great example for any other business to follow.
With that background out of the way, and assurances now made that Crown Royal’s expansive legacy will be perfectly fine with or without my positive review, let’s get into the whisky.
Tasting Notes: Crown Royal Blended Canadian Whisky
Vital Stats: 80 proof (40% ABV), aged three years in white oak.
Appearance: The whisky is pale copper in color and has medium viscosity.
Nose: The nose is crisp, sweet, and mellow. The aroma of cooked sugar underlies an even, appley tone.
Palate: The mouthfeel is quite soft and forgiving. The whisky goes down faster than you’d expect, if you let it. Flavors present include vanilla and cantaloupe, though these two are overpowered by a somewhat uninteresting fuji apple note throughout. Afterwards the finish leaves a delicate tingle, on the shorter side of medium length.