If you have some interest in whisky and happen to read the news every once in a while then you’ve probably heard of the Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. It has been crowned the world’s best whiskey (note that the spelling whisky is typically used for Scottish and Japanese whiskies while the spelling whiskey is used for Irish, American, and Canadian) in 2015 by Jim Murray. If you’ve never heard the name, then as brief introduction Jim Murray is a self styled Robert Parker of the whisky world. He writes an annually updated book known as the Whisky Bible in which he rates whiskies. Last year’s “Best World Whisky” was the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 Edition. This proclamation generated a lot of interest in Japanese whisky to the point where bottles were flying off the shelves and prices soared. Even in the homeland of the spirit, speculators were wiping out stock (For more info see the Japanese Whisky Review blog).
In a similar fashion this year’s announcement has resulted in stocks in the UK being swept up pretty quickly. I believe there are still quite a few bottles left in the US though.
Now a bit about Crown Royal. Crown Royal whisky made its debut in 1939 when King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth visited Canada. It was released in honour of their trip by Samuel Bronfman, owner of Seagram, who became a whiskey magnate by taking advantage of the Prohibition in the United States. Some very interesting stuff there that may be expanded upon in a future post! Since then it has become the most recognizable Canadian whiskey in the world.
This particular expression however, is not their typical stuff. Being 90% rye, this is essentially the rye whiskey of their current range. Rye whiskey tends to have quite a distinctive character as compared the standard mix of corn, barley, and other grains which usually comprise North American mash bills (the stuff they use to make the whiskey). Well enough talk, let’s taste!
Distillery: Crown Royal Distillery in Gimli, Manitoba, Canada.
Age: No Age Statement
Mash: 90% Rye
Price: $25 at CVS in the US
Sweet marzipan and amaretto ice cream. Cadbury eggs. Maraschino cherries. Hint of fresh mint.
Peppery rye. Overtones of synthetic sweetener. Maple syrup. Becomes bitter toward the end.
Stings a bit. Kind of like a cold tart feeling. Like licking an ice cube on a cold day. Bitter like bark.
A wonderful nose on this one with much interplay of different sweet treats but they don’t seem to come through as much on the palate. Instead it becomes a bit more one dimensional with a strange bitterness. Overall still enjoyable and worth the suggested retail of less than $30 USD but not sure I’d spend any more than that on it. Not what I would consider top tier whisky by any means but hey everyone is different!
Fresh tropical fruits. Artificial banana flavouring. Sweet.
Fried bananas, tomato kethcup chips, moving into spices. Peppercorn sauce.
Warm into the finish. Lingering sweetness.
Enjoyed thoroughly. Complex and different. Is it the best for 2015? Meh. But nice dram all the same.