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Crown Royal Reserve

Average score from 5 reviews and 15 ratings 84

Crown Royal Reserve

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Crown Royal Reserve

The first time I had this whisky, I thought it was only so-so. However, in recent and longer tastings, I was blown away at the fantastic rich creaminess of this whisky, as well as the complexity. Caramel, loads of stewed and fresh fruit, honey, bourbon notes, and some good oak are present on the nose, leading into caramel, rye spice, corn and vanilla all balanced on the palate. Enduring complex finish too.

Certainly a whisky worth sipping! This has turned into one of my favourites, and let's certainly hope the quality keeps up!

For a more detailed review, see: whiskywon.wordpress.com/2014/07/…

@talexander, I wish I still had some of that first bottle of Alberta Premium of mine for you to taste. You would not believe how dry it was. That was the one I reviewed, the first review of Alberta Premium on Connosr. And yes, I tasted it side by side with another typical batch. Night and day different. What I wouldn't give for 10 more bottles from that first batch. None of that sweet cloying wine and caramel flavour so typical of every other batch of Alberta Premium I have tasted.

You already know the Crown Royal Reserve story well...I had a great bottle of it 3 years ago, then I tasted from your bottle, and from @JeffC's bottle, and heard about @maltster's bottle, etc...

My first sample of Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve tasted of nothing but Port wine...totally unbalanced. Since then I have had two very tasty and delicious samples nothing like that one.

Standard Crown Royal has always been tame, ok, and somewhat boring...except I bought half a dozen 50 ml minis of it which were fantastically spicy, much closer to the best of the Crown Royal Reserve, and could have been an entirely different whisky.

I have never cursed so much as after I paid $ 75 for a bottle of Wiser's 18 yo. Yuk! It might as well have been Jim Beam Red Stag, only much more chemical and artificial, and at 5 times the price. Terrible then. Terrible bottle now. And yet I did taste from a friend's bottle of Wiser's 18 which was not at all bad, pretty good in fact, and which I actually liked.

@JasonHambrey, greetings and welcome to Connosr! There is a very active group of Ontario members on Connosr. Did I brush by you at Spirit of Toronto May 3rd this year?

Certainly one has to be very careful not to be influenced by having recently consumed strongly flavoured foods and beverages before evaluating whisky. Mood and frame of mind can influence greatly how well we can appreciate a given whisky at a given time. When I find myself unable to accept a whisky on its own terms because of the frame of mind I am in, I routinely wait until I am in a very neutral peaceful frame of mind at a later time. That is not a common occurrence for me, but it does occasionally happen.

Also the quality and provenance of the sample being evaluated always needs to be taken into consideration. It is best, of course, if we could afford the luxury of evaluating all whiskies from our own full bottles, gradually and with a great deal of experience of those bottles over time. The whiskies do change a lot after the bottles are open, of course, but a leisurely observation with multiple observations will make it much easier to trace the whisky as it evolves through those patterns of change.


Nose: sweet, fresh oak. Butterscotch. Wet stone. The aromas are tightly knit and it takes some coaxing to get them out of the glass. Very nice but a little too "closed".

Taste: medium-bodied and warming on the tongue. Surprisingly dry; the sweetness is offset by spicu oak and rye flavours. A classic Canadian flavour profile: scotch and bourbon drinkers will likely find this bland. Butterscotch and vanilla wrapped in oak.

Finish: Slightly sour. Fades on a tangy oak note.

Balance: not a knock-your-socks-off sort of whisky but it has a quiet complexity that makes it sippable. Doesn't quite justify the higher price tag ($52.95 in Ontario) but is worth checking out if you can find it on sale.


With this particular whisky I decided to sample it with and without a tad bit of water. Let us begin shall we, without water first.

Nose: The first thing that came to mind was apples, fresh cut apples; and a gentle floral note. It would only go on from there..

Taste: Predominately apples same as the nose then cinnamon, oak, very mellow and not very complex.

Body: Medium easy to roll on the tongue soft and smooth no discernable roughness.

Finish:Smooth in and Smooth out and quick..

With water(1/4-1/2oz)

Nose: A little sweeter on the nose kind of like really juicy apples being cut (no joke). Still a little floral not as much as before..

Taste: Slightly sweeter on the tail end there is more rye this time also. No need to mention body and finish as they are quite the same just slightly diluted.

Overall: I don't know why this reminded me of apples all the way through its kind of weird not a bad thing though. Maybe batch quality does differ over time with this Reserve bottling of C.R. Question is would I buy this again? Yes I would buy it again maybe once more to see if Im right on batch differences but I would recommend this to our Canadian whisky drinkers. At least once...

After reading the other reviews maybe my palate isn't refined enough but then again not everyone's taste is exactly the same, either way practice makes perfect.


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.

@maltster, yes, I was referencing you and your bottle in Austria in the review. I feel that I have already sampled your bottle, both in Toronto and in the DC area. My reviewed bottle was excellent from the git-go and there has been little shift over time in its flavours over about five months.

It is very much my purpose in doing this review to attempt to call attention to the huge variations possible from batch to batch in many whiskies, and to warn whisky drinkers that the whisky that they thought that they knew from their first taste of it might be a very different whisky the next time around. Having one, two, or ten tastes of any whisky doesn't nail the future of its flavours to the same profile that we have known and experienced.

@Victor - WOW,just popped the cork on Drew Mayville's (20 year man at Seagram's/Crown Royal) latest single barrel expression of Sazerac Caribou Crossing Canadian Whisky.

I am convinced that this recent release is not from the same batch, nor the same distillery, as the previous offering from late autumn of 2011 - that expression had a heavy rye nose and palate and was likely from Walkerville or Alberta. This one is slightly less fragrant and is somewhat mellow with the influence of aged corn whisky. I'm tasting this H2H with CR Reserve and I'm drinking the same whisky from two different glasses.

Me thinks that Mr. Mayville has sourced some well balanced barrels of "Crown Royal Reserve". I will set aside a sample of each for future tastings.

Victor, I believe you may find the world class sample of CR Reserve in a bottle of Caribou Crossing.


I now have only one more CR left in the range to try - the Black - hopefully I will be able to get to that one soon and complete my work with this brand!

It has a beautiful deep red amber colour - clearly a richer and fuller whisky than the standard CR.

The nose is spicy with nutmeg and cloves, and gives of oaky rye notes, enveloped by caramel. Water brings out more of that rye, which I welcome as I otherwise find the nose a little too sweet.

Sweetness becomes more apparent in the mouth, which I am a little averse to. I love the spices though - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. It's buttery in the mouthfeel. The sweetness feels like toffee, and there is some fruit (berries) present as well. Strangely, water doesn't seem to alter the taste profile much at all.

The finish is quite long but here is where the minty sweetness becomes very cloying to me, unfortunately.

Comparing it to the other CRs, I don't find this at the level of the Limited Edition or the XR, but it is much richer and fuller bodied than the standard. If this interests you, Jim Murray crowned this (pun intended) the Canadian Whisky Of The Year in his latest edition, and scored it a 96. But I'm not seeing it - there are a few Canadian whiskies I would have rated much higher. Apparently, the packaging is slightly different outside of Canada (or maybe just in the US?) than it is here: our bottle and case say "Reserve" rather than "Special Reserve" (though it says "Special Reserve" on the cap), and doesn't come with the signature cloth bag. If you are outside of Canada, let me know if I am correct!

@talexander, having sampled from your reviewed bottle, if I had known that there would be so much difference between your bottle and mine, I would have brought a sample from my bottle with me to Toronto for you to taste side by side. I think that you would be amazed at the differences. I have resampled my own bottle since I have been home and I have to say that I think that you got a bottle from an off batch. Mr. Murray wasn't nuts in liking the flavours in "my bottle". The differences between 'sharp and vivid' and 'dull and muffled' are pretty easy to spot. I have sampled the Crown Royal XR, but not the Special Edition. The sample of XR I had was very similar to my bottle of (Special) Reserve, but not anywhere near as good. I would, though, as you did, similarly describe the sample I had of Crown Royal XR as better than the sample I had from your bottle.

These batch variations can be maddening. I have had several crappy first samples from usually good whiskies, which put me off from those whiskies for a very long time. One of the things I really like about reading Jim Murray is that he is not the least bit shy about changing his numerical ratings on a whisky by as much as 15 points from one reviewed sample to the next of the same whisky. In my book that just reflects the variability that actually occurs. The samples of standard Crown Royal I have had over the years had never impressed me much. It always seems kind of blah to me...dull, and without much dimension. Lately, though, I have been buying cheap minis of standard Crown Royal for sample reuse purposes which have been much spicier and better than before, in fact, I would say, spicier than is your present bottle of Crown Royal Special Reserve. Most people want to know what they are getting and therefore want consistency in their whiskies. That only occurs for variable limited periods of time.

About the CR Reserve labeling: mine has a light brown bag, the identical outer box as those in Ontario, and a cap that does say Special Reserve. My bottle cap is a different colour than is yours--light brown to match the bag, whereas I remember yours to have been more silvery.

To conclude, having sampled from your reviewed bottle of the Crown Royal (Special) Reserve I would now be much more cautious about considering buying another bottle of it for myself.

It really is surprising how different they are in this case. I can understand more when the same single malt distillery bottlings are a little different, but a blend? Isn't part of the point to adjust the quantities of each whisky to ensure consistency? You would think they would be much more careful with this, ESPECIALLY with a brand as important (and which has so many devotees) as Crown Royal. Hmmmm. I wonder if something else is at work here - I wouldn't put it past Diageo to export a higher quality whisky than what is kept here within our borders, where brand loyalty is more assured. I smell a conspiracy!

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