Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Crown Royal's Northern Harvest Rye is a 90% rye whisk(e)y released by the 75-year-old, Diageo-owned Canadian company. It is distilled and matured at the Gimli Distillery in Manitoba, which is due north of Winnipeg, which is due north of Grand Forks, North Dakota, which is due north of Fargo, which is colder than a witch's tit. The "rugged winter rye" used in the recipe is grown on Manitoba and Saskatchewan prairies and spends more time "maturing" than American-grown rye. It is planted in the fall, covered in snow, which melts in late spring, and finally harvested in the summer. According to Diageo, Canada's rugged winter rye gives whiskey "flavorful hints of fruit, cloves and spice."

You surely know that Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye won Jim Murray's 2016 World Whisky of the Year. We're not here to criticize his choice or speculate, but we do find it ridiculous that BTAC Weller bourbon was the fourth best. You really can't even compare the two. We will fist fight you in a parking lot for Weller; not for this (or for Heaven Hill's Pikesville Rye, Murray's second best). Also, Jim Murray, who is from Surrey county in the southeast of England, included zero Scotch whiskys in his top 5 for the second year in a row. The Scottish aren't super happy about it...

So what does Murray find so outstanding that he ranked this whisk(e)y #1 above thousands and thousands of others? He wrote, "rye, that most eloquent of grains, not just turning up to charm and enthrall but to also take us through a routine which reaches new heights of beauty and complexity. To say this is a masterpiece is barely doing it justice." OK...

Were we charmed? Were we enthralled? Maybe by the $29 price tag. This is a good rye, but it is light in color, has a sweet nose, and is certainly not our favorite whiskey of the year.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Crown Royal/Diageo
90 proof
$27.99 at ABC in Salisbury, NC

Color: Golden, light amber. 

Nose: Sweet, kind of cloying, and difficult to articulate, I think the dominant aroma is apple, like a green apple Jolly Rancher. I took lots and lots of time with this and get some tart lemon and rye bread with a touch of mustard.

Tasting Notes: Up front, I am struck by prickly rye spice, white pepper, and some bright fruit. It has a great, creamy mouthfeel. 
The flavors have better than average depth. The finish is dry and oaky, but not overly so. 

Overall: B+. A solid rye whiskey, but not the whiskey of the year by any means. The balance of sweet and spice is right on, but it lacks the complexity and power of other whiskeys in our arsenal. We recommend you throw this into a blind tasting and see where it comes out. Our experience has been that it's a middle of the pack rye.

Peer reviews: