Monday, November 26, 2012
Of Whiskey And Innovation
The post here two weeks ago about Crown Royal XR LaSalle, part of Crown's Extra Rare (XR) series, represents Crown's appeal to the enthusiast community. Now the other shoe has dropped, with the introduction of Crown's first flavored whiskey, Crown Royal Maple Finished.
Maple is the natural choice for a Canadian and Crown Royal (a Diageo brand) is commended for not rolling out one more with honey. (They already have Dark Honey under the Seagram's Seven brand.) The packaging is similar to standard Crown, except with a bronze-colored label and a brown velvet bag instead of the usual blue.
They describe it this way: "Crown Royal Maple Finished begins with the legendary taste of Crown Royal whisky. The liquid then incorporates a touch of natural maple flavor achieved through a proprietary maple toasted oak finishing process for added smoothness."
Through questioning, the following translation was elicited. "Crown Royal Maple Finished Whisky is made by adding a touch of natural maple flavor to the whisky and then we introduce it to toasted oak staves and toasted oak chips. The introduction of these toasted oak staves and chips delivers characteristics of the oak to the liquid, one of which is reminiscent of maple. This finishing process also delivers a smoothness to the whisky, worthy of Crown Royal."
The result? If you believe maple syrup is the best part of pancakes, and wish you could drink it straight from the bottle, now you can, plus get a buzz. To describe it as alcoholic pancake syrup may sound pejorative, but not if you really love that flavor. The maple taste is very good, full and rich. Most of it comes from the 'natural maple flavor' but the specially toasted oak staves and chips have a noticeable and positive effect. Identifiable as oak but nicely complementing the maple, they provide added depth with something recognizable from the whiskey lexicon.
Which is good because, without it, there's not much evidence of whiskey here. All distilled spirits, even vodka, have a body and mouth feel that's distinctive to distillates. Crown Maple has that, and the aforementioned oak, but otherwise the whiskey part of this drink is just a rumor.
Still and all, if you really like maple, Crown Maple should work for you. Open this for a party and expect an empty bottle by the end of the evening. Suggested retail is $24.99.
But, be warned, it may bring back some childhood memories.