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CR-NH_RyeProof: 90
Color: medium amber
Nose: toasted almond, pepper, spices, burnt sugar
Taste: vanilla, biscuit, white pepper, cloves, brown sugar
Value: fantastic

As you’re likely aware, Jim Murray came out with his top pick for the year over the weekend.

The Whisky Bible World Whisky of the Year 2016 is Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye.  So this is my take.

I have to be honest here… my first thought was: How much did Crown Royal pay Jim?  In my experience, I have never tasted a Crown Royal product I would put up here on my blog because the rating would be insultingly low.  So yes, I procured my bottle with an eyebrow raised.  But then… well, let’s just jump to the not mincing words quote:

Spicy, oaky, and sweet; Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is a force majeure.

This is a 90% rye mash whiskey… sorry- whisky.  That is to say, 90% rye and 10% something magical.  I’m thinking that 10% of “something else” is a blend of unicorn tears, creme brulée, and a generous helping of awesome.

Honestly, I was expecting this to be a standard Crown Royal fare.  But calling this “Crown Royal” is like calling Russell’s Reserve 10-Year just another bottle of “Wild Turkey.”  This is NOT standard Crown Royal fare.  Northern Harvest Rye is leaps and bounds above any other Crown Royal product I’ve tasted.

Now, you’ll recall from my previous posts that I’m a fan of rye whiskeyHigh West’s Rendezvous Rye is one of the best things I’ve ever put in my face.  And while Northern Harvest Rye isn’t quite up to that, it is a strong contender for my pick of the year.  Granted, it will have to beat out Slaughter House… and that’s no small feat.

Anyway, the scent.  Aromas of toasted nuts, pepper, burnt sugar, cloves and cinnamon waft up from the glass.  It’s nice, complex, and a touch sweet.

The flavor mirrors the scent, but the pepper notes are dialed back.  It’s a soft and smooth rye, not harsh, peppery nor astringent like some can be.  A touch of biscuit (think cream cracker) is present in the flavors and it brings to mind a fine bourbon.

This is NOT standard Crown Royal fare.

I can see myself sipping Northern Harvest Rye on cold evenings with my feet up in front of a roaring fire.  I’m pleased and surprised.  But unlike Jim Murray, I cannot say this is the best whiskey I’ve had all year. I’m not even sure it’s the best new offering I’ve had all year.

But I can say:

Final Rating: 91 out of 100