Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection: French Oak Cask Finished

The fourth entry in Crown Royal’s Noble Collection line is this French Oak finished whisky. The previous three expressions in this series have been hits in my household.

As the name suggests, Crown Royal Noble Collection French Oak Cask Finished sees the brand’s famous whisky, Crown Royal Fine De Luxe, experience secondary aging in new French Oak casks. Simple concept. How does it fare?

Bottled at 40% ABV, this expression prominently features toasted marshmallows and vanilla on the nose. Dark caramel and spice also shine. The French Oak casks have ramped up the spice notes from the standard Crown Royal Fine De Luxe expression. There is more of the same on the palate – dark caramel, creamy vanilla, some sweet fruit, and a seasoning of baking spice. The finish sees the development of toasted oak and slightly burnt caramel.

Overall, this new whisky from Crown Royal is nice, if a bit underwhelming. With the French Oak cask finish, I was expecting a spicier, drier whisky. What we end up with is a Crown Royal Fine De Luxe with a touch more spice and a slightly dark edge. At a price tag of $59.99, it’s not a major investment for a slightly more interesting version Crown Royal Fine De Luxe. 7.5/10

Crownroyal.com

Thanks to Diageo for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Compass Box The Circle

The Circle, one of Compass Box’s latest releases, is a blended malt made in collaboration with London-based bartender Rosey Mitchell from Three Sheets. Mitchell won a competition run by Compass Box.

“I wanted to make an approachable whisky to be shared with friends,” said Mitchell. “I wanted something you could share in the daytime, something with brightness. It could be served as a vibrant summery highball in the garden – sunshine whisky.”

The whisky itself is a blend of several single malts, including Tamdhu, Clynelish, and assumingely Highland Park. Also included is a small portion of “a Highland malt blend finished in French Oak casks.” It’s bottled at 46% ABV and available for $150.

The nose is fruity and crisp with hints of apples, vanilla, and malt. The official tasting notes are spot on. Additionally, a slightly floral top note adds to the fresh character of this whisky. The palate is equally vibrant, and light enough for a summer afternoon. Stewed apples and creamy vanilla are the stars here. Baking spices are integrated beautifully. A touch of heathery smoke provide more structure. The finish is short and a bit spicy.

A versatile, vibrant whisky indeed. It’s flavorful enough to sip neat, but structured enough to stand up in a whisky highball. Mitchell and the Compass Box team did a nice job with The Circle. Good stuff.

7.5/10

Review: Parker’s Heritage Collection Heavy Char Rye Whiskey

Starting this September, the 13th edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection will hit shelves. The 2019 limited edition release from Heaven Hill Distillery is a rye whiskey aged in heavily charred barrels. As with the past few Parker’s Heritage Collection releases, Heaven Hill will contribute a portion of the proceeds from each bottle to the ALS Association in honor of late Master Distiller Parker Beam.

Typically, the distillery utilizes a Level 3 char, but the barrels used in this release saw a Level 5 char. That equates to about 50 seconds more charring compared to a Level 3 char. The distillery states the intense charring allows the whiskey to penetrate deeper into each barrel stave.

The whiskey itself is made from the distillery’s standard rye mash bill and aged eight years and nine months] on the seventh floor of Rickhouse Y. Additionally, this release was bottled at 105 proof and non-chill filtered.

Let’s dig in.

The aromatic nose features a heavy helping of baking spices, including the usual suspects – cinnamon sticks, candied ginger, and cardamom. Those spices are complemented by dark caramel, vanilla bean, and oak as well as toasted rye grain. Dark and spicy, but not overly so. Taste-wise, we’re looking at more of the same. Initial waves of slightly burnt caramel intermingle with oak spice and freshly baked rye bread. Creamy vanilla custard adds weight. Slightly astringent oak tannins grip the back palate and the bittersweet and spicy medium-long finish.

Compared to the distillery’s Pikesville Rye, which is only two years younger, this Heavy Char Rye Whiskey is darker, heavier, spicier, and more oak driven. It’s also about $100 more expensive, priced at $149.99. I really dug my initial casual pour. However, I didn’t find the whiskey as complex as expected when tasted under scrutiny. While I found the heavy char experiment interesting, the resulting whiskey didn’t quite captivate me. The nose was great, but the palate seemed to be missing a bit of vibrancy that would have made all the difference in the world.

As it stands, Parker’s Heritage Collection Heavy Char Rye Whiskey is an interesting, enjoyable whiskey, but is it worth $150? I’d rather grab a pour of the very balanced Pikesville Rye. 7.5/10

Heavenhilldistillery.com

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.