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Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel

Posted on by Eric Burke

Are you one of those folks who have decided that Canadian Whisky would be interesting if only it had a bit more oomph? If it were served at a proof above the bare minimum to be called whisky? Some sort of single barrel pick that hadn’t had all the rough edges blended out of it? 

Well, this is your lucky day. Crown Royal has recently expanded it’s Hand Selected Barrel program from Texas to the rest of the US. This whisky is released at 51.5% ABV. It’s a Single Barrel release of the Coffey Rye whisky. The Coffey Rye is one of the 50 whiskies that make up the standard Crown Royal blend. It is a Canadian rye (not the same definition as US straight rye) produced on a Coffey still.

Saturday was my lucky day. When I wandered into Ace Spirits, I noticed that they had participated in the Hand-Selected Barrel program. I don’t normally review them this quickly, but I bumped this to the head of the pack, just in case you are local and decide to go get one for yourself. So should you got get one?

Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel

Purchase info: $64.99, 750 mL. Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN.

Details: 51.5% ABV

Nose: Earthy and sweet. Bubblegum, baking spices and tobacco.

Mouth: Soft and velvety. The proof brings a lot of tingle to this. Baseball card bubble gum, cinnamon, clove, anise, buckwheat honey. 

Finish: On the short side of medium. More bubble gum fading to a nice bitterness.

Thoughts: This is a bottle that benefits from air. I tried doing my tasting right away and it was really just heat and bubble gum. I was extremely disappointed in it, especially for what I paid. I did notice that the sample in the store didn’t seem to be quite so one-note. And guessing that the bottle in the store wasn’t freshly opened, I poured myself another sample and then let it sit for an hour or so. After sitting, the nose and the mouth opened up considerably, becoming much more complex. This whisky is a touch hot, though I wouldn’t recommend adding any water. Even a little destroys the mouth feel and really lessens the flavors. Anecdotally, this seems to trend sweet. My wife overheard sales people at the Party Source telling folks that theirs tasted like marshmallows. Mine tastes like old baseball card bubble gum so there is a certain candy theme.

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Bottom line: I like it and while it’s interesting to taste a bottle that goes into a major blend, it is really expensive for what it is. I’d be really happy with this at $40, but at $65 I probably won’t be buying it again.


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