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Crown Royal Winter Wheat

Review: Crown Crown Winter Wheat  92.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
April 15, 2022

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.

The Crown Royal Noble Collection is a series of whiskies that have been released on an annual basis since 2016. The Collection showcases Crown Royal whiskies with new flavour profiles by blending different components of the various whiskies that go into the Crown Royal blend and/or using different finishing techniques in maturing the company’s flagship whisky.

According to the distillery:

Each release has provided an opportunity to highlight the artistry and skill of the Crown Royal Master Distillers and Blenders, who are dedicated to their craft of creating extraordinary whiskies inspired by the brand’s long and rich history.

The Crown Royal Winter Wheat is the sixth expression of the Noble Collection. It is a limited-edition whisky with mash bill heavily influenced with hearty winter wheat (51%) combined with corn (39%), and malted barley (10%).

I first became aware of this newest edition to the Noble family when I encountered the spirit when serving as a juror for the recent 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards. This spirit, identified to me only as Sample Number 156 at the time, was one of those select whiskies which caught my attention while I was judging the various spirits. It came as no surprise to me when that particular sample was identified by the other judges as something special as well, and the spirit subsequently was named Canada’s best whisky and Canadian Whisky of the Year 2022 at the twelfth annual Canadian Whisky Awards.

The final spirit is bottled at 45% alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle 5/5

I had a heck of a time trying to capture a picture of my bottle and finally gave up as my camera skills were not doing justice to the presentation. So I contented myself with a stock photo from Diageo who own the Crown Royal brand.

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 the case of Crown Royal Winter Wheat 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 crown shaped plastic cap closure. There is a lot of wow factor here, and the presentation deserves top marks.

In The Glass 9.5/10

Colour: Tarnished penny

Legs: Thick and sluggish

Nose:  Deep notes of rich oak and honeycomb with luscious toffee and toasted walnuts greet the nose. Robust corn notes join with the oak giving the glass a little bit of a bourbon quality. The winter wheat breaks through soon thereafter bringing notes reminiscent of burly rye grain. A hint of rum-like molasses joins in with baking spices (rich vanilla combined with bits of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg) and canned fruit (apricot). The nose grows in the glass becoming richer and more luscious the longer it sits.

In The Mouth 55/60

Ripples of vanilla, baking spice and canned fruit ride a wave of splendid oak and toffee which makes the first sip a real treat. Some bitter grain flavours jump on for the ride as does impressions of graham wafers, banana bread and toasted walnuts. The whisky packs a ton of flavour into each sip. The higher than normal 45 % bottling strength intensifies the effect, but it also seems to fit well with the overall profile of the whisky.  The spirit has the structure and balance needed to carry the higher alcohol content.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The heavy bodied whisky has a long finish filled with oak spice, vanilla and lightly bitter grain. It is that light bitterness of grain at the end which I really appreciate as it serves as a perfect foil for the sweet toffee at the front of the delivery.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

Crown Royal Winter Wheat surpassed my expectations when I tasted the spirit in isolation from other spirits far away from the 2022 Canadian Whisky Award Competition. I believe there are only a few bottles left in Alberta at this time, it might be time to add one of those to my hoarding shelf where I keep those spirits that are so good, that I am reluctant to share them.

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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