Crown Royal

My long awaited first entry for a Canadian whisky is a popular brand and Canadian classic. I speak, of course, of Crown Royal.

Canadian whiskies are almost all blended and Crown Royal exemplifies the spirit of Canadian distillers in its use of a varied mash bill. Crown Royal was created by Montreal’s own Sam Bronfman, of the famous Bronfman family. Sam Bronfman made his vast fortune by bootlegging alcohol to the United States during the prohibition and turned out some interesting, if not fine, whiskies in the process. He acquired Seagram’s in 1928 and turned the company into the biggest liquor company in the world. In 1939, to commemorate King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Sam Bronfman created Crown Royal. The distinct bottle was sold in a purple velvet bag, making it one of the most distinct bottles on the shelf and resulting in a successful marketing campaign. Crown Royal sold extremely well as a result and continues to be a volume leader in the United States. The whisky is now produced in Manitoba. By the mid-90s, Edgar Bronfman Jr., through a series of inept and ill conceived maneuvers, began to engineer the fall of the mighty Seagram’s empire, leading to the eventual selling for spare parts of the company. The mighty Seagram’s empire, globally headquartered in Montreal, was weakened significantly by Edgar’s desire to move the company into entertainment. Edgar’s purchase of the Universal family of companies, including the theme parks, was the beginning of the end and resulted in the loss of a huge part of the Bronfman family fortune. This also represented a loss of a Montreal institution and I believe the Seagram’s head office building in downtown Montreal was recently acquired by McGill University. The building bearing Sam Bronfman’s name also houses McGill’s business school.

Now to the tasting. Note that a little water was added prior to the tasting. This is a 40% abv whisky and I prefer to take it with water at all times.

Crown Royal is a pleasant yellow/gold colour. The spirit runs slowly with thin legs down the side of the glass.

On the nose, a strong and pleasant experience of sweet vanilla provides a mouth watering introduction.

The palate is slightly sour at first, but turns sweet and spicy. There’s vanilla, fruit, a hint of dried mango, and the memory of oak.

The finish is short and sweet. It leaves a sense of oak and vanilla with a twist of citrus.

Overall, a nice whisky. This is surprising for its rich feel and pleasant texture. Crown and Coke is a popular but Crown Royal is a fine whisky on its own.