Whisky Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection 13-Year-Old Blenders’ Mash - The Whiskey Wash

Whisky Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection 13-Year-Old Blenders’ Mash

When is the name of a whisky not a whiskey? When it is a Canadian corn-forward whisky which originally had bourbon in its title as the result of a labeling snafu by the U.S. government. Confused to what we are talking about exactly? Read on to understand more.

In the wake of Crown Royal’s misadventure in briefly selling Canadian-made “bourbon” in the United States earlier this year, the famous whisky brand has forged ahead with its bourbon-inspired offering that’s now dubbed “Blenders’ Mash.”

Earlier this summer – months after Crown Royal parent Diageo agreed to give up the name “Bourbon Mash” – the distillery announced the release of a limited-release, premium version of the whiskey that triggered the uproar: a 13-year-old Blenders’ Mash.

Although it seems like an oversight for Crown Royal to have used bourbon for a non-American whisky released in the United States, the true blunder seems to fall on the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for first allowing Crown Royal to use the term, and then changing its mind too late for Crown Royal to change its label for the first release.

While apparently only a name change, we still reviewed both the Bourbon Mash and the Blenders’ Mash earlier this year.

Crown Royal notes that both the regular Blenders’ Mash and this 13-year-old are in some way inspired by one of the five whiskies used to make the Crown Royal Deluxe blend, but the two expressions are technically distinct.

Aside from the obvious named aging difference, the 13-year-old Blenders’ Mash is the third installment of the Noble Collection, which is an annual, limited-release series by Crown Royal. It has as its mash bill a mix of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% barley malt, and has been aged in new, American oak barrels for at least 13 years – making it the oldest age-statement release from Crown Royal to date.

Crown Royal Noble Collection 13-Year-Old Blenders’ Mash

Crown Royal Noble Collection 13-Year-Old Blenders’ Mash (image via Diageo)

Tasting Notes: Crown Royal Noble Collection 13-Year-Old Blenders’ Mash

Vital Stats: Canadian whisky with a bourbon-like mash bill of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% barley malts. Aged for a minimum of 13 years in new, charred, American oak barrels, and bottled at 45% ABV. Bottles of 750 ml run for a suggested retail price of $60.

Appearance: Both in the bottle and in the glass, this whisky is primarily a bronze color with a touch of coppery red, giving it a slightly reddish hue. It’s on the darker side of whiskey in general, but not by too much.

Nose: The first aroma that manifests as a mellow, sweet vanilla with notes of orange, nutmeg, and a touch of salt adding a spicy, tropical character to the bouquet. While an oak undertone lays low at first, it gradually gets on equal footing with the vanilla, bringing with it notes of rye and clove that turn the overall aroma in an earthier direction, but still remaining relatively sweet.

Palate: As with the nose, the whisky’s entry is like a mellow vanilla – creamy and rich but not overwhelmingly sweet ­– with a note of green apple adding a mild tartness as well as faint touches of flowers and hay. That gradually transitions to a spicier, oaky, rye-forward flavor – adding notes of clove, pepper, and nutmeg – that gently ramps up as it sits on the tongue and builds to a surprisingly strong burn the longer it sits.

Swallowing sends a wave of those spices throughout the back of the mouth with a smoky, caramel sweetness as an undertone. Once that passes, the front of the front of the mouth gets a widespread flare of rye spice that gradually eases back into the smoky caramel that coats with tongue, punctuated with an occasional flare of spice.

The Takeaway

While I can’t compare this whisky to other Crown Royal expressions - having always been turned off by the ostentatious packaging - the 13-year-old Blenders’ Mash is well worth overlooking the velvet bag. This 13-year-old that would be classified as bourbon if it were made in the United States is smooth, interesting, and takes the imbiber through an ebb and flow of sweet and spicy. While neither as subtly complex as an equivalently priced Scotch, nor has bold as a bourbon, it still has an admirable balance that makes it a worthy sipper.

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Aaron Knapp