Canadian Whisky

Review: Crown Royal Blenders’ Mash Blended Canadian Whisky

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Crown Royal’s latest release, Blenders’ Mash, might be its most controversial. Here’s the short version of the story: When it first hit shelves, the name on the label was Crown Royal Bourbon Mash. The name stemmed from what Crown Royal distillers and blenders internally called the bourbon-like mash bill of this whisky. Apparently that’s a big no-no here in the United States, where a whisky made outside of the country cannot use the word ‘bourbon’ on its label to describe it. The “Bourbon Mash” label was already TTB approved, but the government agency reversed its decision, causing Diageo, Crown Royal’s owner, to change the name to Blenders’ Mash.

Don’t let the label controversy detract from what’s inside the bottle.

This release kicks off the Crown Royal Blenders’ Series, which focuses on, er, blending. Produced at the Crown Royal distillery in Gimli, Blenders’ Mash features a blend of bourbon-like, corn-heavy whiskies aged in new and used oak barrels. It’s bottled at 40% ABV and available on shelves for about $28.

The nose is a bit subdued but nonetheless quite nice, featuring hints of vanilla pod, kettle corn, cinnamon toast, and a touch of toasted oak. The entry here is smooth, for lack of a better word. That rich and sweet profile Crown Royal is known for can be found here in spades, with hints of maple syrup and creamy vanilla leading the way. A bit of spiced green apples and sandalwood soon follows. The finish is rather clean, with notes of sweet caramel corn.

In terms of flavor, Blenders’ Mash sits perfectly in a world between Crown Royal and a standard bourbon, carrying over the “smoothness” the Canadian whisky is famous for. In other words, folks who like their bourbon without the bite would enjoy this whisky. However, don’t conflate “smooth” with “lack of character.” Blenders’ Mash is an enjoyable pour, one I don’t have to think too much about while drinking it. Recommended! 8/10

Crownroyal.com

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

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Book Review: Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert

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Until fairly recently, I didn’t know much about Canadian whisky.  Anything beyond Crown Royal or Canadian Club was pretty much foreign to me. But thankfully Davin de Kergommeaux is here to help.

In the second edition of his popular book, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert, de Kergommeaux caters to a wide audience, ranging from whisky novices to whisky nerds. Many whisky books feature a section explaining grains, fermentation, distillation, and aging. De Kergommeaux’s writing style provides a very detailed, but not intimidating, look at the whisky-making process. Those just getting into whisky will appreciate the ease with which de Kergommeaux writes.

History buffs will relish the book’s journey into Canadian whisky’s past. Starting with Canada’s first distilleries, de Kergommeaux follows how the spirit evolved to what it is now, highlighting key figures along the way. Readers also get treated to in-depth and intimate profiles of Canada’s eight major distilleries as well as new upstarts.

In addition, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert features tasting notes for more than 100 Canadian whiskies. It’s welcome addition to those looking to expand their Canadian whisky experience, as the majority of the whiskies featured will likely be unknown to American drinkers.

Word’s out: the world is embracing Canadian whisky. That is thanks in part to people like de Kergommeaux, who travels the world to spread Canadian whisky love. De Kergommeaux’s immense passion for his country’s whisky is only matched by his vast knowledge on the subject. It is evident on every page of this must read book. Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is THE authoritative guide to understanding and enjoying Canadian whisky. Highly recommended!

Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is available now.

Thanks to Appetite by Random House for the review copy. As always, all thought and opinions are my own.

Entrapment 25-Year-Old Canadian Whisky

image005Entrapment is the latest entry in the Orphan Barrel series, as well as the first non-American whisky.  The 25-year-old whisky was distilled in 1992 in Gimli, Manitoba, where it was meant to be blended into Crown Royal Deluxe.  According to press materials, several barrels didn’t fit the blend.  The whisky continued to mature in those barrels until now.  Entrapment is distilled from a mostly corn mash bill… 97% to be exact, along with 3% malted barley.  It’s bottled at 82 proof and available for a suggested retail price of $149.99.

The Orphan Barrel series has been a bit of a mixed bag, with some excellent releases like Lost Prophet sitting alongside a couple of terrible ones. Whoop & Holler, anyone?  Where on the spectrum does Entrapment fit?  Quite up there, actually.

Though the low proof subdues the nose a bit, rich aromas of vanilla, maple syrup corn bread and light oak abound.  The palate is airy and soft, again mostly likely due to the low proof.  Notes of angel food cake, spice and vanilla mark the beginning of the flavor journey.  From there, rich notes of maple and leather develop in the mid-palate.  The journey continues, as baking spices reappear alongside dried fruits in the medium-length finish.

This is a well-aged whisky.  The development and complexity of flavors is welcome.  My only qualm with Entrapment is its low proof.  What’s delivered in the glass is fantastic, but a few more proof points (45% ABV instead of 41% ABV) may have propelled Entrapment into the stratosphere.  Only Diageo holds the answer to why Entrapment was bottled the way it is.  Regardless, my opinion of what’s currently in the glass remains steadfast.  Entrapment comes with a high recommendation, so long as potential buyers aren’t looking for a bold whisky experience.  8/10

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