But this doesn't mean that the producers of blended whiskeys can't come up with some extraordinary and rare products on a good day. Crown Royal XR is one of those gems.
The current release of Crown Royal XR is the second in a series of special small batches made with heirloom whiskeys from some of the company's older, now shuttered, distilleries. The XR stands for "Extra Rare" (ER?), and the first edition featured the last treasured liquor from the Waterloo, Ontario, facility. That version was very well-received in the liquor world and sadly, the final reserves have been depleted.
Always willing to soldier on like the brave Canadians they are, (y'know, like the fact that they claim to own the world of hockey despite the fact that they haven't won a Stanley Cup in two decades,) Crown Royal turned to another secret stash of spirits from their closed LaSalle Distillery in Quebec to create the latest incarnation of XR.
The LaSalle plant closed in 2006 after more than 80 years of producing whiskey, so you know there was some serious experience involved in the crafting of this product. In fact, Crown Royal Master Blender Andrew MacKay began his career there and is the impetus behind the new blend. McKay had two years notice that the previous XR stockpile was running out and was charged with creating the absolute best blend that he could from all the company's products.
The resulting spirit is as complex as a fine bourbon or cognac, with subtle oak and vanilla on the nose from its repose in barrels and spicy notes of rye and raisins contributed by the mash bill and blend. It's also not cheap.
Retailing at around $130 per bottle, Crown Royal XR is available only in allocated supplies for a limited time. Best served neat or with a rock or two, this is a rare treat for a discerning drinker with some extra scratch in his pocket. If you never thought that Crown Royal could be a special occasion drink, think again.
And put down that damned can of soda!