Diageo

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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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.

 

Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Bourbon Review (2017 Release)


When Diageo began seriously embracing American whiskey a few years back, it was full steam ahead.  There was a market for ultra-aged American whiskies, which was perfect for the company because it had a large stock of older whiskies aging at their Stitzel-Weller warehouses.  For the most part, these whiskies began seeing the light of day under the Orphan Barrel umbrella.  However, some was set aside for another new bourbon brand – Blade & Bow.  

Blade & Bow was introduced in 2015 as a solera-aged bourbon, with its oldest component whiskies being distilled at Stitzel-Weller before it was shuttered in the early 90s.  A limited edition 22-year-old bourbon also hit the market.  That release was made from bourbons distilled at what’s now Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill.  I have to admit that upon first tasting this limited edition I was a bit underwhelmed.  It was good, but not great.  After tasting it again months later, I enjoyed it more and even upgraded its score in my original review.  On Derby Day 2017, a re-release of the 22-year-old bourbon has been announced to commemorate the second anniversary of the brand.

This second batch is just as enjoyable as the first.  Layers of caramel, spice, dark chocolate and dark fruits fill the nose.  Taste-wise, I pick up hints of burnt orange peel, caramelized fruit, cocoa, vanilla and spiced dark fruits.  There is a bed of oak underlying most of the tasting experience, becoming more prominent towards the back palate.  The finish is long and features hints of dark caramel and spice.

Sadly, this release is extremely limited.  This sample is probably the only time I’ll be able to drink this nicely aged bourbon.  If you see Blade and Bow 22 for sale near the suggested retail price of $200, pick it up!  Chances are you won’t see it again.  8.5/10

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