During monsoon, we had a remarkable experience “Speed Tasting” where we rated five different drams in the space of 15 minutes with approximately 2-3 minutes per dram.
We had no idea what we were sampling… This was my 2nd dram and merely known as whisky “B”…
Our first part was tasting in silence and rating
What were my hasty impressions?
- Nose – Sweet, fruity, yoghurt, young and fresh, light spice, quite piquant, a bit of grass and a quality almost like agave, then shifted to sweet – like candy floss or bazooka gum or juicy fruit or banana candies or… (you get the picture!) – returning later it was pure honey sweet
- Palate – Much spicier than the nose indicated, almost harsh on 1st sip, peppery, then settled down and became sweeter and smooth
- Finish – Holds for a bit but quite linear
- Character & Complexity – Bright, young, and dropped its spice to become insanely sweet
Our 2nd part was brief discussion with a wee bit of guessing…
Impressions – most thought this may be rye. We also thought it wasn’t your ordinary rye and may be matured in something quite different – perhaps cognac cask.
None of us gave this top rating however it certainly wasn’t last.
And the reveal?
I’ll admit that I’m not so familiar with rye whiskies… and I certainly didn’t pinpoint this as Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye, even after we were given a short-list of options. Admittedly, I’d had it only in passing with no proper tasting so far. What I remembered most was an almost ‘ginger ale’ quality which I didn’t connect with this experience.
And what did Jim Murray have to say in his 2016 Whisky Bible when awarding this dram?
- Nose 25/25 – The rye is not just profound and three dimensional, but has that extraordinary trick of allowing new elements to to take their place: rarely does ulema honey and manuka honey link arms when rye is around, but they do here, yet never for a second diminish the sharpness and presence of the grain;
- Taste 24/25 – Salivating and sensual on delivery, hardly for a second are we not reminded that rye is at work here. And it makes itself heard loudly through the stiff backbone from which all the softer, sugary notes emanate. Crunchy and at times bitter, though in a pleasant controlled way from the grain, rather than from a questionable cask.
- Finish 23.5/25 – Quietens rapidly, though only for a moment or two before the spices begin to pulse again and vanillas take up their comfortable positions;
- Balance & Complexity 24.5/25 – This is the kind of whisky you dream of dropping into your tasting room. Rye, that most eloquent of grains, not just turning up to charm and enthral 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.
And the official Crown Royal tasting notes?
- Nose – Baking spices, cereal, light wood spices
- Palate – Gentle oak note, rich butterscotch, spiced vanilla, develops into soft peppery notes
- Finish – Smooth and creamy
A few folks may know that Crown Royal is from my home province of Manitoba. Or that in 2016, I had the pleasure of touring their plant in the very picturesque Gimli with my parents.
What were the other whiskies “Speed Tasted“?