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Crown Royal XR LaSalle Whisky

Review: Crown Royal XR (LaSalle) Canadian Whisky  86/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on July 26, 2012

Crown Royal unveiled their new Crown Royal XR, LaSalle Whisky in the US market a few short months ago. The previously released Crown Royal XR Whisky, (click here for my review) was a unique bottling of Crown Royal Whisky, which included in the blend, the last aged stocks from the Crown Royal Waterloo Distillery which burned down in 1993. This latest Crown Royal XR Whisky blend focuses its attention instead, on selected remaining whisky stocks from the renowned LaSalle Distillery in Quebec, Canada. The LaSalle Distillery is significant to Crown Royal, as it was the first distillery opened by the Bronfman Family (a legendary name within the spirits industry). The Bronfmans were responsible for the creation of the original Crown Royal Whisky in 1939 to commemorate King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Crown Royal XR LaSalle Whisky arrives with the same ‘boxy’ look established with the original XR Whisky. I disliked that original presentation, and I am somewhat dismayed that the company continued in this direction. If you look at the picture closely you will see that the box opens near bottom rather than the top. If one grabs this box without holding the bottom carefully to bring the whisky from your shelf to the table, the bottom is likely to fall out taking the precious whisky with it. Carrying the box is therefore quite cumbersome and annoying. (Sometimes I wonder if the geniuses who come up with these designs actually use the products themselves.)

The bottle itself is very nice. It has that unique crown shape familiar to Crown Royal enthusiasts and is closed with a very nice glass stopper. I like the iconic velvet bag used for all Crown Royal whiskies; however, this velvet bag and the display box now reflect a royal blue color rather than the Maple Leaf Red colour of the former XR whisky. The Royal blue harkens to a royal heritage for this whisky, as the original Crown Royal Whisky was created in 1939 to commemorate the Canadian visit of  King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

In the Glass  8.5/10

I began my review of the Crown Royal, XR LaSalle by pouring a generous sample into my glencairn glass. The whisky is a richly coloured amber, and that trademark punky caramel-corn Crown Royal nose rises from the glass immediately. The air is rich with vanilla and honeycomb, and displays a strong rich oak taint. However, along with the strong aroma of aged oak there is a thread of mild harshness within which reminds me of the astringency of a young bourbon.

I allowed the glass to sit, and the thread of harshness seemed to dissipate over time. Corn, cedar, marzipan, maple and butterscotch build up, and the nose was much more to my liking after about five minutes of breathing.

In the Mouth  52/60

Just like the former XR Whisky, this is soft, slightly thick, and bourbon-like in my mouth. I taste what appears to be younger oak flavours at the forefront of the delivery. There is also plenty of corn, caramel, and butterscotch. The caramel flavour reminds me of Halloween (you know, those orange wrapped caramel candies with that softer punkier caramel flavour). Deeper into the whisky we have some dark fruit, some marzipan, and a few hints of orange peel as well.

If I let the glass sit, some baking spices build up with a nice accent of maple, and the oak and cedar impressions gain strength. Based upon the descriptors I have used, I should be scoring the whisky higher; but a light astringent harshness runs through the whisky like an unwelcome guest at a friendly gathering. This guest is not quite annoying enough to ruin the party; but the afternoon with friends and family is diminished by his presence.

In the Throat 13/15

The finish is long and spicy with notes of rye joining with the corn. Unlike the earlier version of Crown XR, the LaSalle is not what I would call smooth in the finish. It is that unwelcome guest again which causes a discordant note of raw oak in the exit which just seems slightly out of place.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Crown Royal LaSalle is a good whisky, and if you enjoy a thread of young bourbon running through your whisky, you might grade this as a more excellent sipping whisky than I have. For me it is that discordant note of young oak which diminishes what should have been a great whisky. That light astringency throws the whisky slightly out of balance, and after several tastings, I could not find the necessary harmony in the glass for a higher score.

Here is a another opinion from Davin de Kergommeaux of Canadian Whisky Perhaps Davin found harmony where I could not:  Davin’s Review on Canadian Whisky

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Note: At this time the XR LaSalle Whisky has been released in the USA only. When I asked about the Canadian release I received the following cryptic reply from Diageo Canada (relayed to my by their US media firm),

We are fortunate to have the last remaining cases of Crown Royal XR Waterloo available in Canada.  While we look forward to having the Crown Royal XR LaSalle available (in Canada) in the near future, our focus is currently on the XR Waterloo, therefore no launch date can be confirmed at this time.

My suspicion is that the original Crown Royal XR Waterloo has not sold in Canada as quickly as was originally anticipated. Therefore the Canadian launch has been pushed back to allow these remaining stocks time to sell through. It seems rather unfortunate to me that a product with such an obvious Canadian heritage would be released south of our border first. But at least indications are that this whisky will be available in Canada at some point.

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I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


 
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