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Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend

Review: Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend 89.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted December 02, 2017

Crown Royal Canadian Whisky is currently produced in Gimli, Manitoba, at the Crown Royal Distillery. The distillery and the brand are owned by the spirits conglomerate, Diageo, and I think it is fair to say that Crown Royal is Diageo’s flagship Canadian Whisky brand.

This year Crown Royal introduced what they call their Noble Collection, and  the first limited release Whisky in that Noble Collection is the Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend. Cornerstone is a blending of three of Crown Royal’s most essential whiskies. Two of these ‘essential’ whiskies are predominantly corn-based, one produced on the large multi column still (about 60 % of the blend), one of them produced on Crown Royal’s Coffey Still (about 6 % of the blend). The third whisky which comprises about 33 % of the blend is a high percentage rye blend whisky. These three whiskies represent the cornerstone of the Crown Royal Whisky flavour profile.

Each of the whiskies in the blend is aged at least 8 years and the final spirit is bottled at 40.3% alcohol by volume.

I tasted this spirit as part of my judging duties for the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards. At that time I judged the spirit in a blind format not knowing what it was. However, I kept brief tasting notes and scores for each whisky I tasted and from those tasting notes (after it was revealed which whiskies were represented by which samples) and from one more tasting session done later, I cobbled this review.

In the Bottle 5/5

Each whisky in the Crown Royal line-up is housed in a rather unique crown shaped bottle which makes them immediately noticeable on your bar shelf.  The bottles are usually sold in a nice box (in this case a nice purple canister) with a colourful cloth bag complete with braided drawstrings that the bottle can be placed inside.  The presentation is topped with a gold coloured plastic cap closure.

In the Glass 9/10

When poured into the glass the Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend displays a copper colour with hints of amber and red. When I tilted and twirled my glass I saw a slightly thickened liquid sheen on the inside which slowly releases a multitude of droplets which turn to medium-sized legs which run back slowly down to the whisky at the bottom of the glass.

The nose is quite enticing as my initial tasting notes indicate:

Nose:  rye and oak and cedar wood spice beside bits of menthol and butterscotch, hints of newer wood and pot still rye

Those scents and smells in the breezes meld well together demonstrating  not only good complexity but also balance. As I let the glass breathe, additional notes of burlap and nutty almond come forward with baking spice and hints of corn syrup. A ribbon of Orange Curacao, canned fruit (peaches and apricots) and impressions almond turning to marzipan round out the nose.

In the Mouth 53.5/60

Flavour: Rye and new wood, oak and grain spice lengthened with a lightly buttery texture

The rye grain is complimented by the lightly spicy flavour of sap from freshly split wood. There is also a nice fruity sweetness which brings me impressions of marmalade, canned peaches, butterscotch, maple and vanilla. There are also underlying flavours of raisins, damp tobacco, hints of clove and ginger, some fresh leather and a touch of musty burlap.

Adding ice seems to dampen the flavours without bring any benefit. The light sweetness becomes retrained making the whisky perhaps a touch bitter. Best to leave the ice out and add water if you want to open up the flavours a little.

In the Throat 13/15

Finish: Needs a touch more sweetness to pull everything together, but very nice with hints of menthol at the finish.

Again adding ice is definitely not recommended.

The Afterburn 9/10


During my blind tasting sessions, I found that this whisky had a larger than normal variance in scoring. My highest score was 93 points, and my lowest was 85. It seemed to be my perception of sweetness (or lack thereof) was at the center of this scoring variation. this leads me to suspect that an Old-Fashioned Cocktail where a small dab of sugar syrup is added with a ribbon of orange peel would be an ideal destination for the Cornerstone Whisky from Crown Royal.

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


I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores 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 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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