High esters, vanilla, hints of clean wood, green apples, slightly nutty, spicy but silky smooth. There is no denying this approachable whisky is in the bourbon vein. ★★★★☆
Crown Royal is by far, the best selling Canadian whisky in the world. It is also the second best selling whisky of any kind, in the USA. Only Jack Daniels sells more whisky. Crown Royal is so successful, its producers are free to focus on innovation for their new releases, with no need for sales gimmicks. Perhaps this is why a few people felt threatened when Crown Royal named its most recent release “Bourbon Mash,” a description of how it is made.
Scottish distillers have been displaying the word “bourbon” prominently on some of their labels, for as long as most people can remember. Whether there as a selling point or simply to be transparent, including that word pleases aficionados who want to know how their whisky is made.
And so, the naysayers sat silent when Springbank released a whisky prominently labelled “Bourbon Wood.” They batted not an eye when Glen Rothes named a recent release “Bourbon Cask Reserve.” But Crown Royal?
Citing a law that applies in the US only, and that was passed decades after Crown Royal had already been distilling some of its component whiskies from a bourbon-style mash, they cried foul. The result? Although the whisky is known in Canada as Crown Royal Bourbon Mash, for the US market, the name has been changed to Crown Royal Blenders’ Mash. Whatever. It’s good whisky.
As a flawless synthesis of about fifty component whiskies, Crown Royal is one of the great blending wonders of the whisky world. The House of Seagram, from which the Crown Royal blending team derives, was virtually unparalleled in the art of blending whisky. They integrate the components so artfully, that teasing out the individual whiskies is virtually impossible.
Most Canadian distillers process each grain separately, blending them together only after they have matured fully. Crown Royal, however, takes a different approach. It uses American-type mash bills for its Coffey rye and bourbon-style components. It also makes another rye from almost 100% rye grain and produces two 100% corn whiskies.
So, it was a welcome revelation when the Crown Royal team decided to release its Coffey Rye in a straight-from-the-barrel, unblended version. Suddenly, whisky lovers could taste for themselves a Crown Royal component with all its barrel-to-barrel variations. Discovery led to epiphany and whiskyphiles not only loved Crown Royal even more, they felt they had begun to understand it.
The overwhelming success of its Coffey rye led the Crown Royal team to release Northern Harvest Rye, a blend that included 90% of Crown Royal’s rye component. Aided by a World Whisky of the Year designation, sales so exceeded the team’s most optimistic expectations they had to make more, and fast.
After bottling its Coffey rye and then its straight rye, it makes sense that Crown Royal’s bourbon mash whisky is next in its Blenders’ Series. It too, is a blended whisky, this time with a heavy emphasis on the bourbon mash component, thus allowing whisky lovers, another glimpse into the sometimes mysterious world of Crown Royal.
A few people took exception to the word bourbon on a Canadian whisky label, so the team at Crown Royal changed the US label to read "Blenders' Mash."
High esters, fruits and flowers, vanilla, hints of clean wood, green apples, slightly malty. There is no denying this is in the bourbon vein.
Slippery corn with almost perfumy vanilla. Add a slight nuttiness to the typical Crown Royal bourbonesque notes. Round, sweet, luscious and approachable. Lovely mild pepper in the middle becomes hottish spices on the finish while maintaining that creamy mouthfeel. Hints of oak tannins add structure towards the end. A lingering finish on sweet corn and vanilla with tickling hot spiciness. A rewarding whisky unto itself.
★★★★☆ Highly recommended
$35 at BC Liquors