For more than 80 years, a familiar and welcome gift for the holiday season has been a purple felt pouch with a gold drawstring. What it contains is no surprise: a bottle of Crown Royal Canadian whisky. The “Royal” part of the name is apt, as a gift for the King and Queen of England when they visited Canada in 1939.
All these decades later, Crown Royal has, unsurprisingly, amassed quite a selection of exceptional—and rare—whiskies, distilled at the brand’s home base in Gimli, Manitoba. Three of the rarest and best of those whiskies, aged no less than 18 years, are used in Crown Royal 18. As good as the whiskies are individually, the blenders’ art alchemizes with the distillers’ craftsmanship to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This is a blended whisky where the emphasis is on the blend—each individual whisky is selected by the blenders based on its ability to harmonize with the other components.
The triumvirate of whiskies in Crown Royal 18 create a balanced, elegant blend. The long aging process teases out rich, intricate flavors, along with a smoothness one might not expect from a whisky that’s spent so long in oak. On the nose, enticing aromas of vanilla and stone fruit dominate. On the palate, light oak is tempered by caramel spice, with a lush, velvety mouthfeel, while the full-bodied finish features lingering notes of delicate nougat. It’s rich and complex enough to appeal to hardcore whisky connoisseurs, but it’s also smooth and balanced enough for novices, which makes it an ideal gift across the spectrum and an ideal tipple for refined holiday get-togethers.
The recommended way to drink Crown Royal 18 is neat or with a single ice cube, to let its flavors come through unsullied by mixers. But it does make a delicious Old Fashioned as well. It’s about as spirit-forward as a cocktail gets, with a lone sugar cube and a couple dashes of bitters for company, with a cherry and perhaps a slice of lemon or orange as garnish. The ingredients complement the whisky without obscuring it, which is why the Old Fashioned has been in the pantheon of classic cocktails for more than two centuries.
The sophisticated flavor of Crown Royal 18 is matched by its packaging. You’ll find the familiar purple pouch, of course, but inside is perhaps the most beautiful Crown Royal bottle to date, a multifaceted work of art with a gorgeous glass-topped stopper featuring the Crown Royal logo emblazoned atop. It all comes housed in an elegant purple and gold presentation box. It’s a dazzling looking gift that impresses even more once the bottle has been opened and the whisky has been poured.
This is a whisky 18 years in the making, and the time, hard work, and dedication that went into making Crown Royal 18 are evident in its every aspect. When it comes to gift-giving this holiday season, it’s as close to a slam-dunk as it gets.