I'm revisiting this bottle after many years, and I'll tell you up front that my impression hasn't changed much. One thing that has changed is the 10 year age statement on the bottle, though I've read it has always been a ten year old and only the labeling is different.
Nosed from the bottle, this has a distinct pungency which I attribute to higher than normal rye. The effect is less pronounced in the glass, but the peppery rye is still there along with hints of orange peel and vanilla. Definitely Crown Royal, but a darker, heavier version.
Medium-bodied on the tongue with some good spice offsetting the caramel and citrus. Really exceptional mouthfeel, if a little on the light side. Smooth and satisfying with oak dryness coming up late. The finish is subtle but lasting.
This Canada-only bottling is often overlooked but in my opinion it is one of the finest representations of the classic Canadian style of blended whisky. It has a quiet complexity that might be lost on drinkers more accustomed to Scotch or bourbon. I actually prefer this bottle to the more expensive Reserve. You might say it drinks a bit too easy but that's what it is meant to do.
I also love the bottle. A bit gaudy to be sure, but it is solid in the hand and has a wonderful screw cap which I prefer to a cork.