Posts from the ‘Canadian Reviews’ Category

Phil’s Favorite Canadian Whiskies

If there is a category of whisky that aficionados are quick to defame, its Canadian whisky.  Unfortunately, most of the negative stigma towards Canadian juice comes from the days in the early part of the 20th century when Canadian distilleries were simply shipping in hellacious swill from north of the border.  In some ways, that legacy lingers in that most Canadian whisky is used in mixed drinks, but there are also a number of Canadian whiskies that are well worth drinking neat for their own merits.  It is those whiskies I will be nominating here.

Name: Crown Royal 75th Anniversary Blend

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: 0068

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: $70-80/750ml

Notes: This bottling was a limited edition to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Crown Royal brand.  There were several batches of this whiskey, and some of them may still be available if you look hard enough.  This particular batch was a rye-forward whisky that provided a very dry palate with a lot of rye spices and drying oak.  There was also some bitter dark chocolate and mocha, all balanced out by a lovely mango sweetness working its way through the whisky.  I only tried this one batch, but it was a worthwhile whisky for sure.

Name: Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: N/A

Proof: 80.6 (40.3% abv)

Price: $60-70/750ml

Notes: This whiskey was the first release in Crown Royal’s Noble Collection, and it did not disappoint.  It is comprised of a corn whisky, a rye whisky, and a Coffee still whisky, blended together and shipped out in the iconic Crown Royal purple pouch.  This whisky is creamy all the way through with typical Crown Royal flavors of cherry vanilla and bitter oak.  The balance in this whisky is fantastic.  As this was a limited release, if this whisky interests you, go and get it now.

Name: Crown Royal Reserve

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: N/A

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: $45-50/750ml

Notes: This is a cornerstone of Crown Royal’s Master Series, and its long been a go to gift bottle for me.  The flavors presented here are often crowd pleasers, dried pineapple, raisins, drying oak, and sautéed pears.  This is not an immensely complex whisky, but the flavors are well-presented and delicious.  This is certainly a benchmark of Canadian whisky, and it is readily available in almost every liquor store across America.

Name: Lot 40

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: N/A

Proof: 86 (43% abv)

Price: $50-60/750ml

Notes: This is a rye whisky out of the Hiram Walker distillery in Ontario, and although there is no age statement, most of what I have read indicates that this whisky is bottled around 7-8 years of age.  This is a classic rye profile, with fresh cut evergreen trees, vanilla extract, and freshly baked rye bread.  This can be a hard whisky to find in the United States, but I’m told that if you head north of the border, it’s not too hard to wrangle yourself up a bottle.

Name: Wiser’s 18 Year-Old (circa. 1975)

Age: 18 Years

Batch: N/A

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: Unknown

Notes: Some time ago, a dear friend of mine’s grandfather tragically passed away sitting on a rather eclectic collection of spirits, some in miniatures, some in larger bottles, and my dear friend was kind enough to pass some of the whiskeys on to me.  One such whisky was this bottle of Wiser’s 18, which I have not been able to put a concrete date on, but as best I can figure it, this whisky was bottled around the mid-70’s.  Cracking this bottle open was a real treat and so was the whisky inside.  Unlike most Canadian whiskies nowadays, which are rye-based, this one tasted like it was based in malted barley.  Some of the heather notes common in Scotch single malts were present, coupled with a nutty sweetness, baking spices, cinnamon apples, orange peels, and creamy Amontillado sherry.  Nowadays, it is rare to find a Canadian whisky with any sherry influence, but forty years ago, sherry was a much more common drink, so sherry butts were easy to come by, not like today when sherry butts are a prized commodity for aging whisky.  Unless you are lucky enough to find a dusty bottle of this stuff, it’s gone for good, but it was a damn fine whisky.

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Crown Royal 75th Anniversary Blend Review

Well, with everybody threatening to move to Canada, I thought it was high time I review a great Canadian whisky.  Crown Royal’s 75th Anniversary blend has been produced to honor the origins of the brand, first blended for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada some 75 years ago.  It is a rye-forward blend bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

The nose is dry and oaked, with some vanilla extract, caramel, and dried mangoes.  The palate is dry and woody as well, with caramel and a light rye spice.  The finish is long and very dry with oak, dry cocoa, dark chocolate, and cinnamon sticks.  There is a unique combination of fresh oak/sawdust notes and old, mature oak in the finish.

Overall, this is a smooth as silk blend with a lot of wood influence, but it lacks complexity to be a truly epic whisky.  Even still, this is a top of the shelf Canadian dram, and a worthy pour for the purpose of such a milestone anniversary.  My grade: B+.  Price: $70-80/750ml.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Review

Northern Harvest RyeThe new job has definitely made regularly posting (and tasting) a chore, but I should do better in the future.  Today, I am reviewing Crown Royal’s new Northern Harvest Rye, a 90% rye mash-bill from  north of the border (Gimli Distillery in Manitoba to be exact).  There is no age statement on this whisky, but it is bottled at 90 proof (45% abv), which is a move I really like.

On the nose, there is some notes of fresh mint leaves, cloves, spearmint, rye spice, and eucalyptus.  It’s a pretty straightforward rye nose, with not a lot of complexity, but it is very well-executed and very pleasant.  The palate is soft and dry, with good hints of mint and rye, and a bit of caramel sweetness.  The finish is dry and medium in length with pleasant rye, vanilla, and caramel lingering.

On the whole, I am a big fan of this whisky.  It isn’t anything that will blow your mind, but it is a well-built, straightforward rye.  If you like rye whiskey, this is a dry rye with a lot of classic rye flavors going on.  Crown Royal gets knocked down occasionally by connoisseurs in the whiskey blogosphere, but this is a very fine rye whisky.  My grade: B-.  Price: $30-35/750ml.   If you are looking for a good rye to keep around the house for both cocktails and a fine dram before dinner, this is a great rye to have on hand for such a purpose.

Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky Review

Crown Royal ReserveToday, I am reviewing one of my favorite whiskies for the holidays – Crown Royal Reserve.  It is a batching of some of Crown Royal’s older stocks, bottled at 80 proof, and displayed in a decadent leather pouch.

As you may recall, my review of Crown Royal Maple-Finished Whisky was not impressive.  However, this is a much different product and one that I enjoy very much.  It is a great whisky for the holidays because it is a smooth, drinkable whisky that works well for a lot of different palates.  You don’t need to be a connoisseur to enjoy this one.

On the nose, this whisky is sweet and fruity, with big notes of red apples and honeysuckle.  The palate delivers a very elegant mouth feel, light-bodied, but silky like a Lowland Scotch.  It maintains its fruitiness, but there is a slight dry spice that comes up towards the back of the palate.  There are notes of dried pineapple, fresh pears, a little oak, and raisins.  The finish is medium to short, but it does leave a nice sweetness of vanilla and honey.

Overall, this is not an incredibly complex whisky, but it is one that is delicious from start to finish, which makes it a hit around the holidays.  Almost everybody that is visiting will enjoy this one, from your beer-swilling aunt to your single-malt sipping grandfather.  To make it even better, it is usually available for under $50.  My grade: B+.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  A delightful, light-bodied whisky that is absolutely worth having in your cabinet.

p.s.  This review is dedicated to the memory of my friend, Billy Doyle.  I hope to tend bar as well as he did some day, and his presence behind the bar at The Dugout will be sorely missed.

Crown Royal Maple Canadian Whisky Review

Crown Royal MapleToday, I am reviewing a new whisky just released by Crown Royal, the world-famous Canadian whisky giant.  This is my first review of a Canadian whisky on the site, so I’ll say a few things about the category.  Canadian whisky is simply whisky distilled and aged (three years minimum) in Canada.  It does not have qualifications as to what it can contain, other than the standard cereal grains that comprise all whiskies.  I’ll have a review of one of my favorite Canadian whiskies, Crown Royal Reserve, up later this week.

The product for today is Crown Royal Maple Finished whisky.  It is made by finishing Crown Royal in oak barrels infused with maple.  Contrary to popular opinion, this is truly a whisky, bottled at 80 proof.  It is not a whisky liqueur, like Drambuie or Southern Comfort.

On the nose, let’s just say this whisky is sweet.  Literally, it smells overpoweringly of maple, pancake syrup.  Honestly, it smells delicious, but I would probably rather put it on waffles than drink it.  The palate continues the maple thing, although there is a little butterscotch and drying oak towards the back of the palate.  The finish has some drying oak with it, too, but it is mostly thick maple syrup.  Adding water just makes the whisky go a little further, but it does very little to alter the fact that you are drinking something that resembles Aunt Jemima.

Overall, I do not enjoy drinking this straight.  However, I can definitely see the appeal of this whisky.  I think Crown Royal Maple has the potential to be a phenomenal mixing whisky.  A little of this stuff in your coffee or tea would make for a wonderful drink on a winter’s eve.  Generally, I am a fan of Crown Royal’s craft products, but this one is definitely made to be mixed.  My Grade: C-/D+.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  This one might a good one for the holidays to make some hot toddies, but that is the only reason I’d buy it.