I'll admit this from the beginning, I'm not a huge fan of add-on flavored alcohol. Fruity beer, honey tequila, syrupy schnapps, BAH! But when I got an invitation to get a taste of the new Crown Royal Maple Finished Whisky, I have to say I was interested for a couple reasons.
My uncle was a liquor distributor, so my family always saw just about everything that was on the market for 20 years straight. Crown Royal was the one of the few brands that I remember as having a consistent look and feel through all that time: the fancy pouches, the crystalish bottles, and the special glasses that would come out when the family opened the Holiday Crown Royal.
Second, few things make more sense to put into Canadian Whisky than maple. I wouldn't be surprised if previously they filtered out the maple flavor before they bottled it. Maple seems fitting for the tastes of Canadian Whiskey, so it's worth a try.
Before I get to the actual tasting, I want to give a hearty w00t to the planners for having the event at Double Daughter's Salotto. It's a great room with amazing style for any event. Get out your steampunk gear if you like, anything goes there.
Steve Beal, the Crown Royal Master of Whisky, told us they start with a true Crown Royal, and massage it to add in the essence of maple. OK, Steve. I'm in the marketing biz so I'm hearing some copywriter embellishment going on. I don't fall for awkward alliteration or onomatopoeia overtones like any Jim Dandy just landed from Candyland. I'll give this a taste and decide for myself.
I started off with a Manitoba, a chilled mix of Crown Royal Maple, Ginger Beer, lemon juice, and simple syrup. In this mix I got just a hint of maple scent from the glass, and was surprised at the subtle flavors. Not the overt blast of Mrs. Butterworth's that I was bracing myself for. I liked it. So far, Steve seemed to be telling the truth.
But the real test would be in the next two drinks. On the rocks, and then neat. No where to run and hide for these, boys. It's time to stand up and be counted. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The maple scent is certainly there, but more crisp and light than my pancakes usually are. With my first sips, I tasted all of the smooth Crown Royal that I was familiar with. It was only after a moment or two that the maple flavor came in, not with a blazing spotlight and an orchestra hit, but with a casual stroll onto the stage. I have to say Steve was right. Crown Royal found a way to bring in an interesting maple flavor without destroying their smooth whisky taste.
For my drinking dollar, I think this new creation would fit well with people who want something a little fancier in their whisky taste, plus something a little more familiar in the flavors to augment regular drinking style. But the place where I see this really taking off is for fresh new options in cocktails.
On that note, hop over to the king of our tasting night, Reese Lloyd's blog Cocktail Hacker, to see his concoctions and libations. In fact, Reese's mix was so good that he won a very special edition maple deck Gibson guitar. Lucky duck.
I think there should be a study to see if the drinks we have most often tell us anything about our personality types. What's your ol' standby? Have you tried any new drinks lately?
Please note: Crown Royal hosted Bryan for this event but all words for this post are his.