The flavored whiskey category has seen explosive growth since the launch of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. Since then we’ve seen flavored offerings from Jim Beam and their Red Stag line, Bushmills Irish Honey, and even Barenjager, who added bourbon to their honey liqueur. Now Crown Royal steps into the flavored whiskey space with their first flavored offering, Crown Royal Maple Finished. This new flavored whisky brings together the traditional Crown Royal Whisky along with natural maple flavoring and a “maple toasted oak finishing process.” The finishing process involves soaking the whisky with American oak wood staves and chips that have been toasted to enhance the natural maple characteristics of the wood.
Crown Royal Maple Finished (80 Proof / 40%, $24.99) is dark amber in color and looks like a bottle full of maple syrup. Monster maple syrup notes dominate the nose and are accompanied by rich caramel, vanilla, and the faintest hint of oak undertones. The entry is sweet maple syrup (think pancake syrup), caramel, and vanilla but it quickly transitions in the midpalate with a rich and deep oak spice accompanied by allspice and a strong cinnamon note. The spice reaches a peak toward the end of the midpalate and then peters out for a long and oaky finish with a strong return of the maple syrup, vanilla, and caramel flavors. The maple lingers for an extremely long time on the palate.
Crown Royal has clearly learned the lessons from the flavored whiskey market space and created a product that is still clearly Crown Royal, but softened and sweetened for the early whisky consumer. The added maple flavors go hand in hand with Crown’s traditional vanilla and caramel, and the boost of the oak notes in the midpalate really help balance things out and keep this whisky from becoming overly sweet. The integration of flavors is as strong as Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey (which set the bar for flavored whiskey,) making it one of the stronger flavored whiskies on the market. It’s also important to note that Crown Royal Maple Finished is still classified as a whisky and is not a liqueur – an important distinction and an indication that the sweet notes in the whisky come more from maple flavor than added sugar. Be warned Crown Royal Maple Finished has an extremely strong maple flavor profile. If you are someone who sees pancakes as a delivery method for maple syrup, this whiskey is for you!
With the big maple leaf on the bottle, Crown Royal Maple Finished may be the release from Crown Royal that gets people to clearly associate it with Canadian Whisky. Often the black sheep of the whisky world, Canadian whisky is one of the most misunderstood and most overlooked spirit categories. Drinkers often look to Irish whiskey for a light and drinkable whiskey experience when our neighbors to the north often are delivering just as pleasant a drinking experience, and often for far less money.
Put simply, Crown Royal Maple Finished is deliciously drinkable. With all the spirits we review at Drink Spirits, it’s rare for us to sit down and drain half a bottle of a spirit. Crown Royal Maple is just that kind of spirit. It’s sweet, flavorful, and easy, and at $24.99 it won’t break the bank.