Showing posts with label Diageo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Diageo. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Crown Royal DeLuxe Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes



I have been a man on a mission for the last year. I’m determined to find a Canadian whisky that I could enjoy and recommend. So far I’ve come up empty, but I have a number of them in my whiskey library just waiting to be sampled.


I know there are a lot of fans of Canadian whisky, and in particular, Crown Royal. I’m prepared to take some flak with this review, as even my friend Lew Bryson, who I deeply respect, said earlier this week, that he enjoys Crown Royal with his Thanksgiving meal, and then tossed a friendly barb at anyone who hated it. His statement was the driver for me to taste and compose this review in time for Thanksgiving.

 

What is Crown Royal? Aside from being the standard-bearer of what Canadian whisky should be, it was established in 1939 as a means to commemorate the arrival of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I, the first British monarchs to visit Canada. The blenders at Seagram's Waterloo distillery sampled some 600 different whiskies in an attempt to create the perfect representation. They managed to whittle it down to 50, and it is aged in a variety of cooperages, including new charred oak, vintage charred oak, and French oak.  

 

A fun fact is that from 1939 until 1964, you could not purchase Crown Royal outside of Canada. The final result has remained mostly unchanged by design. It was originally owned by Seagram’s and then sold off to Diageo in 2001. 

 

Some of the blends are single grain whiskies, some of it is a mix of grains. Regardless, all of the grains are sourced from Manitoba and surrounding provinces. It changes in a quest to keep consistency year-to-year, as grains change slightly each growing season. The whiskies are aged at least three years to comply with Canadian regulations. One of the components could qualify as Bourbon if it was made in the United States! Once matured and blended, it is packaged at 40% ABV (80°).  You can expect to pay about $32.99 for a 750ml bottle.

 

I’ve tried Crown Royal before, and I wasn’t a fan. However, it has also been several years since I’ve tried it. As many of us know, our palates tend to change over time, so I’m willing to #DrinkCurious and give Crown Royal another chance.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky appeared as the color of golden straw. I have no idea if e150a has been added for coloring, but I’d suspect that’s not the case considering how light it is. It formed a medium rim which released a huge, wavy curtain that dropped back to the pool.

 

Nose:  Corn was the first thing I smelled, which was joined by caramel, barrel char, floral perfume, and acetone. Yeah, I remembered that acetone from the last time I tried it. When I drew the air into my mouth, a soft vanilla flavor rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be silky with a medium weight. The front of my palate picked out corn and vanilla cream. Next up was a blend of brown sugar and rye spice. The back featured oak, nutmeg, and milk chocolate.

 

Finish:  Medium-long in length, what rounded out this whisky were pepper, dry oak, caramel, and milk chocolate.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The nose was not something I relished. If the acetone wasn’t there, it might have been decent. The palate was okay, as was the finish. The best part of Crown Royal is the mouthfeel. That’s not enough to garner a Bottle rating from me. In this instance, my coronation is a Bar.

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Johnnie Walker High Rye Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 



There are a few whiskies that, as soon as they are introduced, generate plenty of stern opinions before anyone has had a chance to taste one. When the press release came out a week or so ago announcing Johnnie Walker High Rye, it took a few minutes for people to start laughing, saying it was disgusting, strange, just a mixer, etc. I even read in a group I belong someone dismissed this as more Johnnie Walker garbage.

 

Let’s talk about a few things. First, Johnnie Walker, like anyone else, makes good stuff and not-so-good stuff. Most of its releases carry no age statement, and all are blends. Second, there are three types of Scotch drinkers: those who refuse to drink non-age-stated whisky, those who only drink single malts, and those who #DrinkCurious.  As you’re well aware, I’m in that last category.

 

Let’s break that down a bit. Blending whisky is an art form. Just like any other kind of art, you have skilled artists and those who are less so. The goal of a master blender is to start with the result and then figure out how to get there. The goal of a lesser-blender is to take mediocre whisky and figure out how to salvage it.

 

Then, there’s the other half of the equation – the age statement. Age is simply a number that represents the youngest whisky in any marriage of barrels – in theory. As an example, you can have a 12-year Scotch that contains no 12-year Scotch in it, because everything in that batch was older. Or, it could have a small amount of 12-year and a huge amount of something older. And, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking single malt or blends. Moreover, a 12-year whisky can taste much better than a 15-year and vice-versa.

 

In my opinion, those who refuse to drink blends or anything without an age statement are cheating themselves out of amazing experiences. But, hey, that just means there is more for those of us who do!

 

Getting back to Johnnie Walker High Rye, it begins with whiskies sourced from Cardhu (Speyside), Cameronbridge (Lowland, and the oldest grain distillery in Scotland), Teaninich (Highland), Caol Ila (Islay), Clynelish (Highland), and Glenkinchie (Lowland) distilleries. Sixty percent of the mashbill is rye, which I am assuming is from Cameronbridge, as is likely the wheat component. The remaining ingredient is malted barley. As you can discern from my rant above, it carries no age statement. It is bottled at 45% ABV (90°) and I paid $25.00 for a 750ml bottle, making this an excellent opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf.

 

“A mastery of blending to create a bold, new offering. It tempts palates with a revolutionary taste profile that can only be born from the powerful blend of key Johnnie Walker Black Label tasting notes and rye whisky flavors.” - Diageo

 

Did I do well with my purchase? Let’s find out!

 

Appearance:  There is orange and then there is amber. Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this appeared orange in color. It formed a medium-thick rim that produced long, heavy, wavy legs that fell back to the pool.

 

Nose:  I could have been in a Jewish bakery that just took fresh rye bread out of the oven. Then, there was warm butter. Next, aromas of thick caramel, nutmeg, cantaloupe, and toasted oak made me excited to take the first sip. When I pulled air into my mouth, it was straight apple pie filling.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and full-bodied. That apple pie thing continued with green apple, vanilla cream, and brown sugar on the front. As it hit the middle, the brown sugar morphed to caramel, which then morphed again to English toffee. I also tasted saltwater taffy. The back featured nutmeg, oak, clove, and a puff of smoke.

 

Finish:  Things began short, but the more I sipped, the longer it lasted. Cinnamon spice, allspice, and clove were married to tobacco and a kiss of sweet peat.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Johnnie Walker High Rye may be one of the best bottom-shelf Scotches I’ve tried. The whole rye/barley/wheat thing worked beautifully. Nothing overpowered, it was surprisingly complex, and I’d gladly pay twice the price without blinking. Yes, this one snags a Bottle rating. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Caol Ila 12 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


I love smoky Scotches. Don't get me wrong, I love unpeated ones as well. The peat adds an entirely new layer of adventure to the drinking experience. The peatiest stuff comes from Islay, a relatively small island off the coast of mainland Scotland. 


You've probably heard of the Islay distilleries:  Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Kilchoman, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig.  There are two others that aren't quite as well-known: Ardnahoe and Caol Ila. The weird thing is, the largest Islay distillery is one of those two, namely, Caol Ila.


Pronounced Kull eye-la, the distillery was founded in 1846 and mostly remained active except during World War II. It was then taken off-line and demolished in 1972, with the plan to build a brand-new distillery that opened in 1974.


The reason Caol Ila is less recognizable despite its production capacity is about 95% of what's produced winds up going into blends, most notably, Johnnie Walker Black and Double-Black. Caol Ila makes both peated and unpeated whisky. Its peated versions use the same Port Ellen malt as Lagavulin at 35ppm. 


One of the most interesting things about Caol Ila is its distillation process. The stills are filled at about 33% capacity and run 24/7. What this does is allow more contact with air and copper, which, in turn, produces a more mellow whisky. 


Today I'm reviewing its core single malt, Caol Ila 12. As you've probably figured out, this one's 12 years old. This is a peated Scotch and is bottled at 43% ABV (86°). You can expect to pay about $69.00 for a 750ml.  And now, let's #DrinkCurious and find out what this is all about.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Caol Ila 12 presented as the color of straw. It produced a medium-thick rim that generated fast, fat legs to drop back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  I could smell the peat the second I cracked open the bottle and poured my dram. I allowed it to breathe, and peat filled the room. As I brought the glass to my face, beneath all that peat, were pear, green apple, honeydew, and brine. When I pulled the air into my mouth, I sensed melon rind and light smoke.


Palate:  From my first sip, it was like I took a spoonful of a smoky chocolate mousse. That was both the mouthfeel and what I tasted on the front. The middle was almond, brine, and melon, while the back offered flavors of citrus, sweet tobacco, oak, and peat.


Finish: The finish was a nice combination of sweet and smoky. The peat remained and was joined by sweet tobacco, smoked oak, dried fruits, and then, late to the game, black pepper. Initially, I thought the finish was short, but after another sip, it grew into medium-long.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I said at the start, I love peated Scotch. Despite the fact this has a 35ppm phenol, placing it in the heavily-peated category, the distillation process tamed it, and it worked. It was a welcomed surprise. There was no astringent (Band-Aid) quality to it. As simple as the palate was, I found it enchanting. Frankly, it is a shame that most of this winds up as a blended component for other whiskies. I'm happy to spend $69.00 on Caol Ila 12 and it is a welcome addition to my whiskey library. An obvious Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.