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For Canada Day, I thought I'd post a review of a recently released Canadian whisky. This is the first in a series of limited annual releases in the “Noble Collection”. It is a blend of three whiskies, describes as "a spicy Canadian rye", "a creamy whisky from our unique Coffey still" and a "soft, sweet Canadian Whisky matured in charred American white oak".
Gimli Distillery, where Crown Royal is produced, distills 5 streams of distillate: a corn whisky in a column still, a corn whisky in a column and kettle, a corn-based bourbon style whisky, a strong rye whisky in a column still, and a high rye whisky in a Coffey still. The bourbon-style whisky is shown in Hand Selected Single Barrel, and Northern Harvest Rye - at a guess - is either a blend of the column rye or a blend of the column and coffey rye whiskies. My guess is it's mostly the column rye, because they love to market about their coffey still and there is no mention of it on NHR. Also, the coffey rye is often describes as creamy, and I don't find that particularly with NHR. Why distillers never want to talk about their product beats me; when I inquired more about Northern Harvest this is all I got: "This offering combines the richness of Northern harvest rye grains with the unmistakable smoothness of Crown Royal to create a perfectly balanced whisky." Well thanks.
So this blends spicy Canadian Rye (think Northern Harvest Rye) with creamy Coffey still whisky and a bourbon-like whisky (Hand Selected Single Barrel). You can distinguish both the elements in the single barrel and the northern harvest on this.
White grape and cherry on the nose- typical crown royal! Rich grain, with quite a bit of vegetal rye hanging in behind the corn. Vanilla, arugula, corn bread, caramelized dried apricot, a touch of mint, prunes, and spice – reminding me of morrocan stews or roasts where there is cinnamon, raisins, prunes and dried apricots in the sauce. And creamy. Terrific nose. Though it’s very complex, I’m not sure it quite comes together – the two extremes between the spicy, dry rye and the luscious corn/bourbon-style whisky aren’t quite brought into balance by the coffey still whisky.
The palate is soft, with lots of dried corn and cherries and peaches while having a dry, spicy, and vegetal underside from the rye. It showcases lots of cherry and dried apricot, and typical rye arugula. Finishes in a drying fashion with oak, corn husks, vanilla, prunes, cinnamon, ginger, and clove. The dryness fades and it turns creamy and sweet. Not quite as interesting to me as Northern Harvest, or as moreish and balanced as the single barrel – but very nice. It actually seems like a hybrid of Northern Harvest Rye and the Single Barrel. A lot of these Crown Royal products reminds me quite a lot of Four Roses bourbon products – I imagine lovers of that would appreciate this.