We recently mentioned the release of Crown Royal XO, a Cognac cask-finished whisky and the newest addition to the Crown Royal portfolio. This latest release falls on the heels of Crown Royal Maple (2013) and Crown Royal XR (2012), as the ubiquitous velvet-pouched Canadian whisky maker is keeping itself busy.
Crown Royal XO begins with 50 various-aged whiskies. These whiskies are blended together and then finished in ex-Cognac barrels for an extra spike of flavor and nuance. You may recall that the now defunct Crown Royal Cask No. 16 employed a nearly identical process, which makes its market exit and the subsequent entrance of Crown Royal XO a bit befuddling.
Crown Royal XO pours amber in the glass. The nose is muted and mild, with notes of vanilla, caramel and light oak. Take a sip for more vanilla, plus heavier oak and some baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s here that those Cognac casks begin to come through, adding notes of dried fruit to the mix. It’s nothing particularly substantial, but it’s a welcome addition to what’s otherwise a very straightforward spirit. It finishes oaky and dry with a lingering pepper spice.
Crown Royal XO is an easy-drinking whisky that stays in line with the traditional Crown flavor profile, while offering something just a bit different for those looking to branch out. We’d have liked to see a bit more Cognac come through on this one, and we can’t really justify the price tag, but it’s a solid effort that should garner some fans.
– 40% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★