Crown Royal Limited Edition (40% abv)
Controlled, elegant, creamy, and balanced with nutmeg, cloves and ginger, hot pepper and peppermint, green and ripe apples, floral bourbon-like vanilla and oak, cereal, and orange bitters. Spicy Rye. ★★★★☆Like so many Canadian whisky giants, Seagram’s Sam Bronfman made his fortune during the rough and tumble days of American Prohibition. And like many who profited from Prohibition, once it was over Sam Bronfman worked very hard to buy respectability, and perhaps re-write his own history just a tad. It’s not that whisky making wasn’t a respectable business. But it certainly was the case that many people frowned on it, particularly during Prohibition when some distillers were flirting outside the law. And the whisky makers’ enormous financial success during Prohibition, gave bitter Temperance hangers-on one more thing to disapprove of once Prohibition ended in 1933.In the years that followed Prohibition, distillers sought all manner of opportunities to improve their damaged image. Over at Seagram’s, Mr. Sam, as he was called, was an expert at this. When he learned that England’s King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (the parents of Queen Elizabeth II) would be touring Canada in 1939, he set out to develop a whisky to commemorate their visit. As the story goes, and Mr. Sam told lots of stories, he personally tried over 600 different blends before finding the one he felt worthy of royalty. Bronfman managed to get a case of this new whisky, which he dubbed Crown Royal, onto the Royal Couple’s train for their cross-country tour.If it was good enough for the Royal family, who were renowned whisky lovers, it was certainly good enough for Canadians. Once the Royal Couple returned to England, Mr. Sam promoted Crown Royal across Canada where it was available exclusively for many years. Seagram’s hadn’t thought to release it elsewhere. But in 1965 the demands of Canadian oil workers in Texas were heard, and Seagram’s released Crown Royal in the United States. It was an auspicious decision, for Crown Royal has since gone on to become the best selling Canadian whisky in North America.Since 1994, Canadians once again have their own exclusive Crown Royal, unavailable anywhere else in the world. That’s when Seagram’s released Crown Royal Limited Edition. But America doesn't get left out in the cold, for Diageo has recently introduced Crown Royal Black, an America-only bottling. Since taking over the Crown Royal portfolio in 2001, Diageo has maintained the Limited Edition and it’s Canadian exclusivity. Complex, mannerly, cultivated, and understated, it too is fit for a king. The judges at the 2010 World Whisky Awards in London obviously agreed, awarding Crown Royal LE the title of Best Canadian Whisky.Nose: A bit closed at first, then slowly develops hints of nutmeg and cloves. A mild uncertain fruitiness resolves into traces of apple juice and granny smith apples, which later become sweet and ripe. Spare hints of vanilla are soon shaped into bourbon notes by a slight oakiness. An austere nose indeed, it’s dry and dusty with typical Crown Royal floral notes, again vaguely reminiscent of bourbon. Sweet rye spices are well represented throughout by allspice and cloves, and are set off by vague shadows of anise. Youth and maturity are held in the balance by a certain freshness that speaks of youth, and the combined elements of dry grass, wet grain, pablum, and cereal, that tell of maturity. Though complex and full, the nose is tastefully restrained. It certainly is all about balance.Palate: Sweet, gingery, and oaky with pleasing zesty orange bitters almost from the start. The rich and flavourful palate is quite complex: fruity and creamy with hot white pepper and an accent of oakiness. It’s balanced, controlled, and elegant. Without question this is the most pleasing Crown Royal palate of the six expressions currently on the market. Although it’s immediately enjoyable, with a bit of sipping time you can tease out all manner of flavours and complex interactions. Added to this is a syrupy, almost slippery mouthfeel which gives a feeling of real substance.Rich vanilla notes interact with the oakiness, and a slight tannic pull, to deliver a classic bourbonesque Crown Royal. The pepper starts hot and grows hotter over time, but is always under control. Hot peppermint, which dissolves into sweet double-mint gum, complements the hot pepper notes. Both the mild, watery sweetness of barley sugar and the almost bitter sweetness of burnt sugar are clearly distinguishable among ubiquitous toffee notes.There are many flavours, yes, but they are tightly integrated into a harmonious whole. Hints of oranges and lime peel remind us why orange bitters are so often used to spice up a whisky cocktail. The natural citric bitterness of Crown Royal Limited Edition really does add sparkle, especially in the middle.Finish: Longish with a creamy fade on spicy hot pepper and wood, and ending on citric zest. It’s just slightly sweet and, late on, there are suggestions of fresh peaches.Empty Glass: There is almost nothing left next morning but hints: of lilacs and daisies, dust, maple syrup, toffee, mint, wood and wood smoke, and dry grain.Crown Royal was blended for King George VI and his Queen, and clearly he approved. If I were to present a Crown Royal whisky to their daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, it would be this one, the Limited Edition with its aura of comfort, confidence and elegance, founded in richness, complexity, and substance. And it wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg either. Crown Royal LE is available at LCBO for $40.95.Highly recommended★★★★☆Crown Royal Black reviewed here.Crown Royal XR - Extra Rare reviewed here.Crown Royal Cask 16 reviewed here.Vintage Crown Royal Fine De Luxe from 1963 reviewed here.