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Crown Royal Reserve is also known and labeled in some places as Crown Royal Special Reserve. Jim Murray named it Canadian Whisky of the Year in his 2012 Whisky Bible, giving it 96 pts. That listing, plus a local sale led me to buy a bottle in about November 2011.
Body: medium, to slightly light mouth-feel.
Nose: rich, penetrating, very fragrant and very spicy, especially for a 40 % ABV whisky. Delicious flavours of both rye grain and wines. An excellent nose.
Taste: the excellent nose flavours translate into excellent palatal delivery. Big spicy rye flavours combine with rich wine flavours. It all works, and amazingly so, with very big flavours for a 40% ABV bottle. Actually these are perhaps the biggest flavours I have ever encountered from a 40% ABV whisky. It is only the second whisky that I have liked that combined strong rye (or wheat) flavours with strong wine flavours, the other being the Parkers Heritage Collection Wheated 10 yo with Cognac finish. Judging strictly from this bottle, I fully understand why Jim Murray named this Canadian Whisky of 2012, though I still prefer Wiser's Legacy.
Finish: stays the course long and flavourful.
Balance: The balance of the parts is there. It works. The sweet-dry balance is great. The wine flavours work with the enormously spicy rye bits.
Now, for the rest of the story:
This is one exceptional bottle of blended Canadian whisky. Unfortunately, neither I, nor Connosr member friends of mine in Ontario, Virginia, or Austria, know how or where to buy a bottle of Crown Royal Reserve that will taste like this one does. I sampled from friends' bottles purchased very recently in Ontario and Virginia that tasted quite flat by comparison to this particular bottle. I would rate those two no higher than 83 pts, and maybe as low as 80 pts. There are no batch markings on the Crown Royal Reserve bottle labels, so even though I wouild love to have additional bottles of whisky tasting like this reviewed bottle, I have no confidence that I could find any without getting a lot of flat-tasting bottles by mistake first.
Whisky reviews are usually and most appropriately based on the samples at hand. Usually only one review is given of samples from one bottle. Not enough awareness exists in the minds of many whisky lovers of the very large batch differences which occur in many whiskies. Mr. Jim Murray is very good at pointing out brand batch variations year to year in his Whisky Bibles, and I applaud him for that.
Apparently both Mr. Murray and I received samples from an exceptionally vibrant and delicious batch of Crown Royal (Special) Reserve within the past year. It is a pity that I would not know how to locate more of that same whisky again.