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Royal Reserve Canadian Rye Whisky

Review: Royal Reserve Canadian Rye Whisky 79.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 17, 2010 (Revised and re-scored September 2016)

Henry Corby began his  involvement in the distilling industry in approximately 1841, buying and selling grain at a grist-mill on the banks of the Moira River. By 1859, his distillery had become as important as his milling operation and so it (the distillery) was incorporated as a separate company.

In 1881, Henry’s son, also Henry (aka Harry), took over, and through the next ten years the Company began to bottle their own brand of whisky and sold it under the name of Corby. From 1905 to 1935 the company experienced a series of mergers and acquisitions which first resulted in the assets of Corby, and  Wiser’s being consolidated; and then in 1935,  Hiram Walker – Gooderham & Worts Ltd. became the majority shareholder in the H. Corby Distillery Limited, by acquiring 51% of the company’s equity.

Royal Reserve is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

royal-reserve-sam_2648In the Bottle: 3.5/5

Corby Royal Reserve Canadian Rye Whisky presents itself in the rectangular whisky bottle pictured to the left. The presentation is minimalist; although based upon the price point for this spirit, it is adequate (although not inspiring in any way). With such a rich history and tradition to draw from, it is a pity that more was not done to highlight the heritage of the company.

In the Glass  8/10

The Royal Reserve whisky presents itself as a pale copper coloured liquid in the glass. A light swirl showed very skinny fast traveling legs on the side of my glencairn. The aroma is one of oak spices mingled with rye, and an underlying butterscotch and vanilla. There is a touch of roughness in the air which some will find offsetting. I actually like a rye whisky to have some kick, so I am not put off, rather I feel anticipation as I lift the glass.

In the Mouth 48/60

I taste a nice old-fashioned rye profile with a light dryness that goes for the tonsils.  The whisky is crisp on the tongue and the dryness has the ability to pucker the palate making it receptive to another sip. A good dose of caramel arrives with the rye, and the oak spices carry flavours of fresh fruit and citrus peel. Underneath, I taste a thin layer of honey and a subtle swath of corn. They appear to provide a little softness which serves to helps to smooth out and bridge the differences between the sweet caramel and the dry rye.

There is a bit of a balance issue as the caramel seems to come on just a little strong. I would prefer the rye to take center stage with the caramel adding support to the rye, rather than appearing on relatively equal terms with it.

In the Throat 12/15

The whisky delivers a nice kick to the tonsils and throat.  I experience a mildly dry burn which stays just long enough to make me remember the sensation for next time. The finale was a burst of rye and fruit at the back of the palate. The only fault was a cloying sweetness which seems to be caramel driven.

The Afterburn  8/10

This is a nice sold Canadian Rye Whisky which has a delightful old-fashioned rye flavour.  I will admit that previously I had passed over this whisky many times in the past due to preconceptions formed based upon the uninspiring bottle and label. But, I now have a new mixing whisky to add to my bar.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipes

Corby Royal Reserve is good for nice long rye cocktails to drink on the back deck on warm evenings after all the work is done. Here is a nice summer recipe:

The Woodcutter

1 1/2 oz Royal Reserve  Canadian Whisky
3/4 oz  Triple Sec
3/4 oz Lime Juice
4 large ice cubes
dry apple cider

Mix the first three ingredients in a tall Collins glass with ice
Lengthen the drink with dry apple cider


Please Remember, the aim of my blog is not to encourage you to drink more, it is to encourage you to drink better!!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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