whisky review

Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection 13-Year-Old Blenders’ Mash

The 2018 entry to Crown Royal’s annual Noble Collection is this 13-year-old Blenders’ Mash.  The whisky’s mash bill is similar to that of bourbon.  According to Crown Royal Brand Ambassador Stephen Wilson, it’s about two thirds corn and one third rye, with a touch of malted barley.  This whisky is also aged exclusively in new barrels.  Really, the only thing that keeps this from being bourbon is that it’s made in Canada and not the U.S.

Rich caramel and oak spice are the dominant notes on the nose, complemented by vanilla and floral notes. It’s very reminiscent of a typical bourbon, and that sentiment also carries over to the palate. Cinnamon frosting leads things off, followed by a burst of freshly squeezed orange juice and maple caramel chews. Some oak spice develops in the mid-palate, becoming slightly astringent. The medium-length finish is warming with hints toasted oak and caramel.

This is fantastic whisky, and my favorite of the Noble Collection releases.  Not only is 13-year-old Blenders’ Mash a great gateway into Crown Royal for bourbon fans, it’s simply fantastic.  My only issue here is the price, which is about $100 a bottle.  I can name a number of bourbons for half that price.  So, this Crown Royal blend is a bit expensive for what it delivers.  Price aside, 13-year-old Blenders’ Mash comes with a recommendation. 8.5/10

Crownroyal.com

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

Review: Speyburn 15-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky

My introduction to Speyburn a couple of years ago came in the form of its 10-year-old and NAS expressions.  Their light and approachable character was matched with their very affordable price tag.  Flavor-wise, it’s like a sort of second cousin to Glenmorangie 10yr, without the floral notes.  What’s not to love!

The brand’s core range grew with the recent addition of a 15-year-old single malt.  Priced at $65, Speyburn 15yr is still easy on the wallet.  It matured in a combination of American oak and Spanish oak (read ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) casks.

The nose hints at a creamy whisky, with vanilla, orange peel, and dried fruit.  It reminds me of a custard dessert like a crème caramel.  On the palate, creamy toffee and vanilla kick things off.  Developing soon after are spice notes, dried fruits and semi-sweet chocolate.  Bitter orange appears on the back palate.  The long finish is warm, with hints of creamy vanilla and orange peel.

Compared to its younger 10-year-old sibling, Speyburn 15-year-old manages to bring a slightly darker and elegant quality to the table – the toffee’s a bit darker, more spice, and the addition of dark chocolate.  The dried fruit add even more complexity.

I’m a fan, even with the $30 – $40 markup for an extra five years of maturation.  It is still cheaper than a lot of 15-year-old single malts on the market.  Speyburn is value-driven without sacrificing quality, and that’s something I always appreciate.  Highly recommended! 8.5/10

Speyburn.com

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

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Review: Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

New to the Knob Creek limited edition family is this beauty – a cask strength, unfiltered, 9-year-old rye whiskey. In this case, cask strength means 119.6 proof. The one off (?) expression was barreled in 2009. Though there is no explicit age statement on the label, press materials stated this is 9-years-old.

A sharp eyed viewer mentioned not seeing the word “straight” on the label. I reached out to Beam, and they informed me this is in fact a straight rye whiskey, just not labeled as such.

On the nose, hints of dark caramel and toasted rye bread are joined by baking spice, orange peel, and leather notes. The palate sees more of the same. The rye grain isn’t as prominent as other high rye whiskies due to the seemingly smaller amount of rye in the mash bill, though it is at least 51%. It’s here in the form of a pleasing buttered rye toast, so no sharpness or dill note. Dark caramel and dark brown sugar add sweetness and richness, while the familiar Jim Beam roasted peanut is ever present, as is a generous sprinkling of baking spices. A touch of orange peel and some leather on the backend add more complexity. Finally some astringent old oak leads us into the finish, which is long, bittersweet and somewhat spicy. Compared to Knob Creek Small Batch Rye, this expression comes across as less sweet with a richer, more complex flavor.

The best part here is the price. In a world that sees a large percentage of limited edition releases introduced at the $100+ price point, Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye comes in at $69.99. Kudos to whoever made that decision. Older rye whiskies are becoming more and more expensive.

My conclusion – this is a no-brainer purchase. It’s that simple. 9/10

Knobcreek.com

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

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