Crown Royal Black 45% alc./vol. (90 proof)
Rum-soaked Christmas cake. Creamy, with vanilla, hot pepper, ginger, dark fruit, orange bitters, Bourbon, charcoal, oak, and floral notes. Rich and Round. ★★★★Think dark rum. No, not any dark rum, think El Dorado 21 year-old. Now add some vanilla, some Bourbon, a handful of charcoal, a load of hot white pepper, and a dash of orange bitters. Now, with all those flavours still vibrant in your mouth, add the signature Crown Royal creaminess and you have nothing short of an indulgence: a big, powerful, and eminently quaffable whisky.There are five spirit streams, at the Gimli, Manitoba distillery where Crown Royal is made. Three of them are ryes, one a “Bourbon,” and the fifth primarily corn. Add to these a couple of dozen different types and ages of barrels and the possibilities for Crown Royal flavour profiles are huge.Master blender, Andrew MacKay, took full advantage of these possibilities to develop a bigger, bolder Crown Royal by balancing a heavier percentage of Bourbon-style and rye whiskies with buttery base whiskies. And he has managed to showcase the rye and Bourbon-style "flavouring" whiskies without losing any of the creamy corn-whisky tones associated with the Crown Royal family. Crown Royal Black’s rich nose and robust palate clearly take North America’s best selling Canadian whisky in decisive new flavour directions, while retaining its familiar “house style.” And this is exactly what MacKay intended.Even though all the whisky in CR Black exceeds Canadian standards for ageing, like all Crown Royal whiskies, the bottle does not bear an age statement. What the label doesn’t tell you though, the flavour certainly will. Rest assured there is plenty of quite old whisky in the bottle.Nose: Opens up on molasses then gets loads of vanilla, some spirit, dark fruit, black cherries, and bouquets of flowers. This whisky becomes quite expressive as slightly oaky old Bourbon notes move in to displace the rummy ones. It’s vaguely minty, creamy rich, and robust. Reminiscent of Crown Royal Deluxe, but with hints of charcoal, more fruit, and with a lot more floral perfume. Juicy Fruit gum, cigarette ashes (not smoke), orange bitters, and orange juice round out the nose. Quite expressive.Palate: Very sweet and peppery. It begins on dark rum then becomes more Bourbon like, with some charcoal, followed by copious vanilla, loads of hot white pepper, chili pepper that stays hot on the tongue, and some ginger. Hints of rye spices, nice bitter orange and a slight astringency come out in the middle. Then, it becomes spicy and fizzy, like ginger ale. Rich, robust, and creamy, with hints of black fruit and late on some Smith’s Bros. licorice cough drops. Really nice weight. The rum/molasses notes make it seem just a bit candied, which will appeal to some palates more than others.Finish: Medium with nice warmth. Fades to pepper and bitter orange, with lingering vanilla-charcoal-Bourbon notes.Empty Glass: Sweetish, toffeeish with wood and wood smoke, cooked vegetables, vanilla, pickles, dry grain, dry hay, floral notes.This is a whisky to sip and enjoy while chatting with friends, or mix in a whisky (or rum) cocktail. It’s not one for quiet reflection or silent contemplation. While it retains its regal name and livery, this is not so much a whisky for her majesty, the Queen as it is for her grandson, the rambunctious Prince Harry. Although it is blended and bottled in Canada, Crown Royal Black was exclusive to the US market when first released. It began to appear on Canadian liquor store shelves late in 2010 and early in 2011.About $29.00 to $40.00 at American liquor stores.Update February 15, 2011: - reader Ken McLelland advises that Crown Royal Black is now in stock at some LCBO stores where it sells for $34.95.Highly recommended. ★★★★Crown Royal Limited Edition reviewed here.Crown Royal Cask 16 reviewed here.Crown Royal Extra Rare reviewed here.Vintage Crown Royal Fine De Luxe from 1963 reviewed here.