Crown Royal’s newest expression is all about rye. Comprised of 90% rye whisky, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is the company’s first ever blended rye whisky. Normal Canadian whiskies may contain a little rye whisky blended with other grain whiskies and neutral grain spirits. The rye grain used was grown and harvested in Canada, and the whisky was produced at the brand’s distillery at Gimli, Manitoba.
(Note: I was sent a small review sample from Diageo.) On the nose, there’s a nice soft rye grain note upfront, followed by some baked apple, freshly cut cedar, and light vanilla. Bottled at 90 proof, this blended rye has a thick, creamy mouthfeel with notes of rye grain, young oak, sweet vanilla taffy, and cloves. A sweet rye grain note carries over into the medium finish. There’s a nice sweetness from start to finish.
I can’t help but compare this release to the standard Crown Royal. This rye blend is leagues above the brand’s base spirit. The standard expression of Crown Royal is a bit too “smooth” and lacks complexity. Northern Harvest Rye is distinctive in the way it utilizes the rye grain. In other words, this whisky has much more character. This blended rye tones down the sharp notes I normally associate with rye whiskey and carries a nice sweet vanilla note to balance with the rye. Very nicely executed. A 750mL retails for $29.99.