Crown Royal Noble Collection: 13 Year Old Blender's Mash

I realized today, that I was still paying for an Audible.com subscription. I found a deal before I went on my last trip where I could get two books instead of the usual one for my initial month. I thought that would be great as it would allow me to put on the headphones and drown out noises that the kids were making. Worked great! Except I forgot to cancel and I ended up with another credit for a free audiobook. 

I'm a big fan of Ancient and Medieval Mediterranian History. Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Carthage, and the Phoenicians, as well as the Later Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Huge fan. Like, I read scholarly works and textbooks for fun type of fan. That said, I've never read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I know that he got some things wrong and that he had certain biases, but I always figured that I would get around to it one day when I'd read enough to allow me to see through the cracks of the 200-year-old, 12-volume text. 

Tonight, since I had forgotten to cancel the subscription, I decided to get my money's worth for that unexpected credit and got the entire 126-hour, unabridged version of the book using my one credit. Not too bad for $16. And right afterward (since they allow you to keep access to your books even after you cancel) I canceled the subscription.

And speaking of getting my money's worth, I was very worried that tonight's whiskey was going to be the exact opposite of that. It is a 13-year-old Canadian Whiskey from Crown Royal. It is created from a mashbill of 60% Corn, 36% Rye, and 4% Malted Barley. It was aged in new, charred American Oak barrels. And if that sounds like a bourbon, know that if it had been distilled and aged 130 miles to the south, it would be. But after the fiasco of the Crown Royal Bourbon Mash release last year, they wisely chose to leave the word bourbon off of the packaging, calling it "Crown Royal Noble Collection: 13 Year Old Blender's Mash" instead. 

So though it is not legally Bourbon, how close is it and is a 13-year old Canadian "bourbon-ish" whiskey worth the $60 I paid for it?

Crown Royal Noble Collection: 13 Year Old Blender's Mash

Purchase Info: $57.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 45% ABV. This would be bourbon if it were distilled and aged 130 miles south of where it was. 60% Corn, 36% Rye, and 4% Malted Barley and aged in new, charred oak barrels for 13 years. 

Nose: Delicate and fruity with cherry Starburst® candy, mint and cinnamon. 

Mouth: The first sip starts delicate, but doesn't stay that way. The second sip brings a nice, thick mouthfeel, caramel, cherry, baking spice and hints of mint and oak. 

Finish: Medium length, but in a sneaky way. It fades quickly but then reappears a second or so later and hangs around for a bit with flavors of Cinnamon spice, mint and oak. 

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Thoughts:  This is honestly the most "bourbon-like" Canadian whisky I've had. Which is why I keep stressing that this is bourbon in all but name. The price is higher than I would like but still lower than the prices of comparably aged bourbons these days. It has a good thick mouthfeel, complex flavors with nice spice and fruitiness. All in all, I like this one a lot and feel I got my money's worth on it. Maybe not as much as I did in the audiobook above, but this won't last 126 hours of constant use either. 


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Crown Royal: Bourbon Mash / Blender's Mash

I used to work with a guy that almost no one in the company liked. He'd been there forever and was extremely enthusiastic about the job and the mission of the company. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that after a while his habit of going around the proper channels to get his pet projects done started to grate on my nerves as well. Especially since, though he had a lot of enthusiasm, he didn't have nearly as much talent as he thought he did. Unfortunately for him, everyone knew this fact about him, including the higher-ups. As such, he got shuffled from position to position until he was finally let go in the first of many rounds of layoffs that the company went through. Apparently, after he lost his job, he had a hard time of things and ended up taking his own life. 

While he was still with the company, he had a piece of paper taped up in his cube where he and passers-by could see it. It had three simple words on it: "Assume positive intent." Something about that simple reminder to be empathetic made a big impact on me. It was a key point in adopting my "don't be a dick" philosophy. I wish I could tell him how big of an impact he has made on my life. I feel bad that after this long, I can't even remember his name. 

I thought of this tonight when I was doing a little research on tonight's whisky. This one received a lot of flack from the self-proclaimed "consumer advocates" of the whisky community. See, the TTB originally approved the label for this whisky even though it was in clear violation of the standards of identity (§5.22 (l)). I will be kind and assume that these "consumer advocates" really think they are doing a public good by going after these companies. And they probably are having a positive effect. But from the outside, it sure does seem that they love the "gotcha" moment, appearing to assume that every company is out to pull a fast one and that the regulators are corrupt, stupid, incompetent, or some combination of the three. 

I will, however, choose to "assume positive intent." The description on the label is technically correct. It is a Canadian whiskey distilled from a bourbon mash. The fact that it is also a prohibited use of the word bourbon? Sure, it may have slipped past someone on a bad day. Hell, people make mistakes. Even marketing people. (If I got fired from every job where I made a mistake, I'd have never kept one.) That the TTB then came back to Diageo and revoked the approval and asked them to surrender it makes it a non-issue to me. So Diageo gets to sell it for a year based on the agreement with the TTB. Then it goes away and becomes a piece of trivia for hardcore whiskey nerds. And a collector's bottle for those who think it will become a collector's bottle.

But now on to the important question: How does it taste?

Crown Royal Bourbon Mash

Purchase Info: $26.99 for a 750mL bottle at Savage Liquors (Hy-vee), Savage, MN.

Details: 40% ABV. Non-age stated (but to be called whisky Canadian whisky has to be at least three years old).

Nose: Delicate. Caramel, vanilla, mint and almond.

Mouth: Thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel. Tingly spice. Nutty sweetness.

Finish: On the short side of medium. Gentle spice. Lingering notes of nuts and cocoa. 

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Thoughts: This is alright. Not great, not terrible. It splits the difference between a bourbon and a Canadian whisky. Unfortunately, when I'm in the mood for a bourbon, I want a bourbon, and when I'm in the mood for a Canadian whisky, I want Canadian. That said, this is fine, but it doesn't really have a place on my shelf. 


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Wiser's 18 Year Old

I've been on a bit of a Canadian Whisky kick the last week or so. Luckily, I try to always keep some of my favorite Canadian Whiskies on hand for just such an occasion. 

The one in my glass tonight is another product that spent almost two decades in the barrel. Wiser's 18 Year Old is an 18-year-old whisky, distilled at the Hiram Walker and Sons Distillery in Windsor Canada. I last purchased the Wiser's 18 back when I was first becoming interested in Canadian Whisky. I was trying to decide which I preferred, 18 or Wiser's Legacy. Luckily for me at that point, I liked both the taste and the price of the Wiser's Legacy more. 

But that said, I remember enjoying the bottle I picked up. So I thought that now that Wiser's Legacy is no longer available, I would go back and give 18 another shot. And I thought I should probably do it while I still could, as I am seeing less and less of it on the shelves these days. 

Wiser's 18 Year Old

Purchase Info: $62.99 for a 750 mL bottle MGM Wine & Spirits, Prior Lake, MN.

Details: 40% ABV. Aged 18 years.

Nose: Cotton candy, mint, cherry, and almond. 

Mouth: Oak, mint, almond, and baking spice play with a nice heat in the mouth. 

Finish: Warm and on the longer side of medium. Lingering oak and spice which fade to cherry candy.

Thoughts: This is a delicious whisky that has many of the same notes you would find in a Bourbon. The fun thing is that it tastes almost nothing like bourbon. Each note is expressed differently. The oak is more refined and is very well integrated. The cherry and almond almost merge into the same note. Wiser's 18 Year Old is a masterpiece of the Whisky Blender's art. 

I really like this and if you see it on the shelf at your local, pick it up and enjoy exploring both the differences and similarities between this and the bourbons you are used to. 


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Orphan Barrel: Entrapment

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

Yes, I know that the name of the site is BourbonGuy but from the beginning, I've had a focus on North American whiskey, which includes bourbon, rye and yes, Canadian. Longtime readers know this, but I've been seeing a lot of new names popping up in the comments so I thought I'd reiterate it. I count myself to be a Canadian Whisky fan. I've enjoyed releases from little known (in the US) names such as Danfield's and Highwood Ninety and from the staples such as Canadian Club and Crown Royal. 

And it was that last one that got me excited when I saw that I'd be getting a review sample. The newest release in the Orphan Barrel line is a 25-year-old Canadian whiskey that was initially intended for Crown Royal. It was left over and set aside. In this case for quite a while. I like Crown Royal, though I find it to be a bit overpriced and overrated. 

Let's see how the leftover bits fair.

Orphan Barrel: Entrapment

Purchase info: This sample was kindly provided by Taylor Strategy. The suggested retail price is $149.99 per 750 mL bottle. 

Details: 25 years old. 41% ABV. Mashbill of 97% corn and 3% malted barley. Distilled in Gimli, Manitoba. Bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Nose: Cinnamon candies, caramel, dried lumber.

Mouth: Very polite. And by that, I mean so gentle that you could honestly hold it in your mouth for minutes before you start to notice it. At that point, sweet and fruity notes combine with a nice nuttiness.

Finish: Gentle and short with cinnamon and nutty notes.

Thoughts: On the surface, there isn't a lot to this. The nose is very good, but you almost have to swallow your sip before the flavor starts to show up. When the flavors arrive, they are also very good. Though, I don't think I would say they are $150 good. Especially when they only show up for the second act. Yeah, this is pretty meh for me. 

And that disappoints and irritates me. There are a ton of delicious, full-flavored, Canadian whiskies on the market. Even the oldest ones are less than half the price of this. I'm terrified that someone will buy this and think that because it was so expensive, that this must be the best. That all Canadian Whiskies are this mild. I worry that in that mythical person's mind all Canadian whiskey will be dismissed. And they shouldn't be.


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