This is a sample (courtesy of @paddockjudge) of the US-only expression Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel. Why this is not available in Canada is beyond my comprehension. Apparently, different states get different barrels; this one is exclusive to Total Wine and More in New Mexico. I could be wrong but I think the blend is 64% corn, 31.5% rye and 4.5% malted barley, and is around seven years old (if I'm wrong, I'd be happy for someone to correct me).
The colour is a dark gold. Very herbal on the nose with mint and fennel, buttered corn-on-the-cob, rich vanilla, mashed banana and Caramilk chocolate bar. Macadamia nuts. Some rye spice. Pretty fruity with overripe peaches and canned apricots. A drop of water opens up wood smoke and burnt toffee. A bit more muted than I was expecting - and doesn't seem much different from your standard Crown.
On the palate it's still standard Crown, but dialled way up - huge explosion of corn oils, banana cream pie, cloves and oak. Buttery mouthfeel. Candy corn. Light milk chocolate, even white chocolate - but the dominant flavours are full-on caramel and vanilla, we have heaping loads of both. The alcohol heat keeps it from being cloying - and water helps by upping that heat, with some added spice. But there is too much emphasis on that caramel/vanilla Crown profile.
The long finish is white pepper, umami, chili and charred oak. Although the higher ABV is welcome, it doesn't push it over the edge enough to make much of a difference - despite the remarkable finish. A stronger Crown Royal is still just a Crown Royal.