Whisky Connosr
Shop Join

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Sour, Citric, and Bitter

0 1481

@VictorReview by @Victor

26th Nov 2015


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

Show rating data charts

Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Crown Royal reports that this whisky contains 90% rye content, and has not disclosed the grain content of the remaining 10% of the whisky. The reviewed bottle with serial number 003105408466 has been open for 7 days and is half full

Nose: quite a fragrant very dark-fruity nose of medium pitch mostly, smooth and quite soft and rounded. There is some rye spice also, cloves, cassia, and black pepper, deep-pitched, clumped together, and muted. Some vanilla. This is a beautiful nose, nicely balanced and very reminiscent of the better MGPI rye noses or Col E H Taylor Straight Rye. Water added mellows and sweetens the nose and is very pleasant. Score: 23/25 points

Taste: sour, citric, and bitter in the mouth. The palate bears very little resemblance to the beautiful nose. There is a clump of amorphous bass pitched flavous here, which is where the spice flavours dwell. The lovely fruit flavours are present but are drowned out by this low pitched mess of flavours. I believe I know what it is I am tasting: that 10% secret whisky component is wheat whisky, and Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye suffers from a clash of wheat and rye flavours so common when a distiller combines these two grains together. Water added slightly softens the clashing flavours. Score: 20/25 points

Finish: the clash of flavours just continues to develop in a bad way, becoming more sour, more citric, and more bitter into the finish. Water added softens the finish, which is an improvement. Score: 19/25 points

Balance: very good balance in the nose; fair balance on the delivery; poor balance on the finish. Score: 19/25 points

Total Sequential Score: 81/100 points

Strength: very good strength of flavours throughout. Score: 23/25 points

Quality: very good quality of flavours in the nose; good flavours of the individual components on the palate. Score: 21/25 points

Variety: adequate variety of flavours throughout. Score: 21/25 points

Harmony: very good harmony in the nose; poor harmony thereafter. Score: 16/25 points

Total Non-Sequential Score: 81/100 points

Comment: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye should have contained 100% rye content. There is no reason to hide the identity of the other 10% of grain unless it is wheat. Corn or barley will not ruin a whisky made of other grains. Wheat will. This is a primary reason why SO MANY malt lovers do not like either blended Scotch or Canadian blended whiskies: WHEAT.

Good God, Jim Murray! Don't embarrass Canada by picking such a mediocre Canadian whisky as World Whisky of the Year 2016. There are much better Canadian whiskies than Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Related Crown Royal reviews


mscottydunc commented

I would be much more interested in hearing about the top 5 Victor Whisk(e)y's of the year than any list from Jim Murray......any chance you want to share your top 5 for 2015 with the rest of us?

6 years ago 0

Victor commented

@mscottydunc, I am always happy to share my impressions and opinions about whisky. I can't say that I have sampled very large numbers of whiskies which premiered in the year 2015. And I have been saving without opening most of the bottles I have acquired recently, such as Ardbeg Supernova 2015, 2015 William Larue Weller and 2015 Eagle Rare 17.

I think that I have been most excited this year by the quality of some of the single barrels I have tasted, coming from High West, WhistlePig, and Willett. Some of the proprietary barrels of fairly common and relatively inexpensive whiskies, such as High West Double Rye, have been very impressive.

Not only do I really like Cutty Sark Prohibition, but I rejoice in the possiblity that more blended Scotch may be sold at 50% abv.

One other whiskey which impressed me greatly this year is the Teeling Single Grain Whiskey, with Cabernet Sauvignon Finish. Beautifully done whiskey.

New for me, but not new for 2015 has been discovering Highwood Ninety 20 yo corn whisky. Excellent corn whisky, and one of the best Canadian products, in my book.

Overall 2015 represents to me a year of contracting opportunities and increasing prices for the well-established premium products. I think that a whisk(e)y lover has to be really resourceful to find good value these days. There is a wealth of new-distillery products available now, but I haven't been chasing any bottles of these without first tasting samples.

6 years ago 0

BlueNote commented

@Victor. The Cutty Prohibition finally made it to BC and based on your earlier review I grabbed a bottle. No regrets and I will be grabbing a couple more. Also a bargain for us at $35. This one is very much straying into single malt territory and whatever grain whisky is involved is of very good quality. Thanks for the tip.

6 years ago 0

Victor commented

Excellent to hear, @BlueNote! Thanks for joining in.

6 years ago 0

Benancio commented

@Victor Sour and bitter is what I got out of the two sampling I had. Jim Murray must be out of his mind or bought off. I'd never lay down money for this rye. CR has an excellent Single Barrel but this rye missed the mark by a long shot. I hope that CR tries another approach at Rye Whiskey, but I doubt it after Murray's review. Thx for another honest review. Cheers.

6 years ago 0

Pierre_W commented

Many thanks for your comprehensive and honest review, @Victor. It is good to have someone with authority comment on this year's "world whisky". Very likely we over here in Continental Europe won't get to see any of this ever but at least now I know that I will not have missed anything.

6 years ago 0

Astroke commented

I think Jim Murray should have an award ceremony for this "Whiskey of the Year" on April 1st 2016:)

6 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

It won a Gold medal in the Canadian whisky awards for 2015

5 years ago 0

Victor commented

N.B. the batch marking for this reviewed bottle is L5099 N5.

Here is an interesting link to a discussion of the wide variation among batches of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. whsky.buzz/blog/….

Before I read discussions such as the one above it seemed quite possible, even likely, that Jim Murray was given a sample of an unusually good batch of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye to evaluate. It was inconceivable to me that he could have drunk from my bottle and come up with a 97.5 point score.

4 years ago 1Who liked this?

Megawatt commented


You should hardly be surprised, given that he has consistently awarded 95 points to plain old Alberta Premium. I've had it recently and it is nothing to write home about. 75 points would seem adequate, even generous, for regular AP, but Murray obviously has a soft spot for these hard-tasting Canadian ryes, even the revolting Hiram Walker Special Old. So, 97.5 for Northern Harvest (which, to my palate, is a much better example of high-rye whisky) does not seem like such a stretch.

Also keep in mind that last hear he gave Ballantine's Finest (the 3 year old version) 96 points. If he's being bought, he has quite the variety of masters.

3 years ago 0

Victor commented

@Megawatt, yes, Mr. Murray's taste often differs from the taste of most of us.

I would be extremely curious to see what some of these allegedly superior batches of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye taste like. Like most people around this club with respect to Johnnie Walker Red Label, I will believe that Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye can taste wonderful only when I have proven it to myself. While I am not holding my breath for that to happen, I certainly acknowledge that I have been pleasantly surprised by presumably horrible whiskies tasting good many times before. Even Jack Daniels Old No. 7 has the occasional tasty batch among the ones I don't want to drink.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@Victor I’ve had very good and very uninspired bottles of CRNH. None have been worthy of a >86 pts score. The one I had two bottles before the current one was quite good. I believe that was the one I reviewed. I believe I scored it at about an 84 or so. The one I have now is very ordinary. There are fewer wood and spice notes and far more herbal/mint notes than I care for.

3 years ago 0

Victor commented

The last sample from this bottle, now open for 27 months, is considerably better than at any previous time. The wheat flavours on the palate seem to have receded and offer much less interference with the righteous flavours of rye grain. The last 100 ml of this bottle I would have scored at 86 points. It is a very common occurrence with US Straight Ryes for them to taste better with long air exposure. This is the strongest example I have seen yet for that to occur with Canadian whisky. No doubt the occurrence here is due to the 90% rye content.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

You must be signed-in to comment here

Sign in