This past Christmas a friend of mine at work struck up a conversation with me about whiskey. Specifically Crown Royal. She’s a fan of their standard Crown Royal blend, and asked my opinion regarding Crown Royal XO and XR. Unfortunately, I’ve never tasted either so I couldn’t help her out. I reached out to the folks at Crown Royal, and they kindly sent over samples for me to try.
Crown Royal XO
Crown Royal XO is a blend of over 50 whiskies owned by Crown Royal. The matured whisky is then finished in ex-cognac casks. It’s bottled at 40% abv and available for around $50. The cognac barrel finishing is evident on the nose. The nose is soft and sweet, as expected from a Crown Royal. However, there’s a slight dry or astringent oak, vanilla and a touch of maple syrup. The low abv softens the palate a bit and brings about fruit, caramel, and a little oak spice. It feels a tad more complex than the standard blend. The finish is rather light and short, leaving behind vanilla custard.
This is a step up from the standard Crown Royal blend. However, it still comes across a bit light to me. Beefing up the alcohol percentage to 43% or 46% would help this release, in my opinion. Nonetheless, if you’re just looking for a light, sweet whisky, this would be right up your alley.
Crown Royal XR
Part of the Extra Rare series, this blend of Crown Royal XR features some of the last whisky from the now closed LaSalle distillery. Crown Royal Master Blender Andrew MacKay was aiming for a richer blend when creating Crown Royal XR. That richness is something the LaSalle distillery is known for producing. Bottled at the standard 40% abv, Crown Royal XR smells great. Thick maple syrup and rounded rye spice (as opposed to a sharp rye spice) dominate the nose. This is Crown Royal we’re talking about, so it’s still a light nose. Taste-wise, the entry isn’t an immediate sweetness. Instead, a slight sharp grain note quickly develops into a rich, sweet syrup. Some spice pops up along the way, along with a touch of dry oak and vanilla. This whisky has a moderately long finish full of sweet and spicy oak.
There’s a nice complexity in this release, and it may be among my favorite Crown Royal blends. Not my favorite though… that title still belongs to Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel. Still, this one holds up in the glass, and is a worthy pour for fans of Crown Royal. A bottle of Crown Royal XR should run cost about $130.