Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Review

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Review

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is the first true rye whisky put out buy Crown Royal, a Canadian whisky company that’s been around for over 75 years, and they didn’t cut it short. This rye comes in with a whopping 90% rye whiskey and the other 10% is… a mystery. Crown Royal hasn’t said so it could be some kind of grain whisky, corn whisky, malt whisky or a mix of it all. The only thing we know for sure is that 90% of what’s in this bottle is good ‘ole Canadian rye whisky.

Their purple labeled and bagged workhorse whisky does have some rye in it, but it’s not a large amount, more like the amount found in a standard bourbon here in America. Speaking of America, I can’t help but feel like the rising popularity of Canadian Rye whisky like Masterson’s rye, Whistle Pig and Lot 40 have had at least some bearing on the creation of this product. Either way, it’s a timely release from our northern neighbor.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Info

Region: Manitoba, Canada

Distiller: Crown Royal
Mashbill: 90% rye 10% grain whiskey
Age: NAS
ABV: 45%

Price: $33*

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Review

EYE
Butterscotch

NOSE
Dark sweet taffy, sharp rye spice, fruit and baking spices come up first, laying a solid foundation for some lighter notes of lemon peel, sandalwood and dill to play on. It feels a bit reserved and for being 90% rye I was expecting a bit more of a kick.

PALATE
Fruit, baking spices, dark sweets, red licorice and a touch of vanilla and citrus move through in an an un-orded jumble followed by a light touch of woodiness that kicks up towards the end.

FINISH
Long and filled with dark sweets, fruit, spice and a hint of wood that builds as it fades.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Good balance, medium body and a smooth supple texture.

OVERALL
Admittedly I’m not the biggest fan of most Canadian whisky, but the Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is actually not too bad. Pretty good one might even say. It is a little light on the nose and palate so it ends up coming through a bit subdued, but what’s there is pleasant. When it comes to the rye content in this whisky the closest thing I can equate it to are the MGP 95% rye whiskies like Bulleit Rye, George Dickel Rye, Willett Rye and Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye who all have a much bolder spicier character than this which could be due to all kinds of factors like the strain of rye used, distillation methods, colder aging climates or grain whiskey is tempering it. Either way it’s not a bad Canadian rye whisky at all and definitely worth a try.

SCORE: 86/100

*Disclosure: This bottle of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 87
  • Palate - 85
  • Finish - 86
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 86

Summary

Coming through at $33 Crown Royal Northern Harvest is a bit more than I’d like to pay ($20-$25 ideally), but if you’re looking for a Canadian rye to try this isn’t a terrible value either as it’s far cheaper than Masterson’s, Whistlepig or even Lot 40.

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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20 Responses to Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Review

  1. Thanks Josh, great to see another review of this new product. Not a fan of the regular Crown Royal myself, so glad to see they have released a new predominant Rye version.
    FYI, I’m going to guess that “unknown 10%” is actually American bourbon. Canadian law allows 9.09% non-Canadian whisky (1/10 additive to final volume) to be included in the final product. Apparently, this was introduced to take advantage of tax breaks in the US when exporting (i.e., they import US bourbon and add to Canadian stock, to be able to sell it cheaper in the US). For the Canadian versions, they typically just use Canadian corn whisky made bourbon-style (since no incentive here to use actual US bourbon). A good recent example is Alberta Premium Dark Horse – just released as Alberta Rye Dark Batch in the US, swapping out the ~9% Canadian corn whisky component for actual bourbon. Davin de Kergommeaux has a recent blog post about this on the Whisky Advocate website.
    In any case, I’m looking forward to trying this new rye-version of CR, if they also release it in Canada (no idea yet).

  2. Question past the obvious question. As most now know, this was “awarded” the
    whisk(e)y of the year 2016 by Jim Murray. My question is not, what standard he used. My question is, due to the fact that in his press release, he seemed to stress that he was judging the bottle he had, and went on to knock in general Canadian whiskeys, do spirits producers take special care in the quality of their samples that they are sending out, or supplying, for reviews, making sure it is “really great” in order to have a chance of a good review, and thus, sales. It does appear that when a store, for example, sends a buyer directly to the distillery, they seem to pick out really good product, better than what is mass produced and distributed.

    • CK,

      Your question is 100% valid. I’ve often wondered the same thing about reviewers getting sent bottles from honey barrels and I’d say that for the most part when I do try something I’ve been sent compared to something off the shelf I find them to be a identical as whiskey from different batches typically are. After reading my review of this someone sent me a sample of their bottle for comparison and theirs was a bit lighter and flatter and I suspected something was up, but after about 3 weeks of being opened my own bottle became noticeably lighter and flatter than it was initially and so now and tastes identical to the sample someone sent me and I couldn’t give it more than an 84 at this point.

      Taste is alway sa bit subjective and I would like to think that whiskey companies aren’t playing everyone like that, but I’m also not naive enough to think that it’s not out of the question. What I can tell you though is if I personally ever come into a situation where I get a sample bottle that is obscenely better than something I might have already picked up off the shelf I will definitely make it known. Unfortunately that’s about the best I, or any blogger / writer, can really do since it’s financially prohibitive to do every time we’re sent samples for review.

      Hope that helps in some small way. Cheers!

  3. What pay check did Jim Murray receive for naming this whiskey of the year? Last year’s choice, the Yamasaki 12 in Sherry Cask, was spot on- no complaints. This Rye by Crown Royal, while not bad, is super thin, high alcohol smell and a burn to boot- it makes it hard to enjoy what flavors should be present. In no way is this a master piece according to Jim. Sazerac, Dickel, High West, and even white label Bulleit Rye are more complex.

    • Agreed, there are a slew of ryes that are much better. If you bought a bottle give it 3 weeks and go back it to. It fades and flattens out really quickly. I couldn’t give it above an 84 at the point my bottle has flattened out to now.

  4. Just bought it. Tasted it. It’s alright, especially for $32, but world whisky of the year??!!? I don’t see it…not even close. Frankly, I don’t trust Jim Murray’s reviews anymore.

    • Hey John,

      Agreed, definitely not World Whiskey of the Year caliber, not even close. SInce you just opened yours up I’ll say this. Give it 3 weeks and go back to it. Mine flattened out and faded a bit and I’d give it an 84 at this point. That’s not a quality you want in a “world class whiskey”.

  5. As a Canadian I and most of my Whiskey buddies took great exception to this named as Whiskey of the Year. This is not even a top 15 Canadian Whiskey. Lot 40, Wiser’s Legacy, Highwood Ninety are probably the only 3 Canadian Whiskies I would regularly replace in my bar.

    I did however win a WLW BTAC in the LCBO lottery so I will settle for Murray’s second best Whiskey and that I agree with(actually should be #1) CRNHR maybe in the mid 1-200’s

  6. Well it’s safe to say that the Northern Harvest Rye is the best Canadian Whisky I’ve ever had, but that’s only because I’ve only ever had the regular CR bottling and I think some Canadian Club back when I was like 19. That said I like it and would buy it again. The only reason I even considered it is because I read on another blog somewhere and the guy who reviewed it said its the “best whisky in the world right now” or something like that. So I thought – let’s find out. Is it? No. Not even close in my mind but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m not a sophisticated whisky drinker. I want something that’s pleasing up front, in the middle, and on the back end. And this does all that for me. However – so does Wild Turkey 101 and it does it even better for less $$. The one thing I found amusing is that the guy who called it the best in the world must have a few readers because at BevMo where I bought it it was locked up in a case with whisky’s priced upwards of $80 and I bought it for $26 – so if nothing else he drove some shoplifter traffic. A solid effort and I may buy a bottle from time to time for a change of pace.

    • Hey Jim,

      Jim Murray called it Best Whiskey of 2015 in his last edition of the Whisky Bible and that caused a huge rush on it which is probably why Bevmo had it locked up. It’s an ok whiskey, but yeah not something I’d call the best ever.

      Cheers!

  7. While I would agree that this is not ”whiskey of the year” material, I would be willing to call it ”entry level/under $40 whiskey of the year”.

    Simply put, this thing is much better than most stuff in its price range and definitely outshines cheaper scotches, bourbons and ryes. Furthermore, being a cognac person more than a whiskey guy, I would be prepared to buy this instead of every VS level cognac which are usually twice the price.

    All in all, one has to take CRNH’s price into account when rating it.

  8. I like RYE Whiskey. I usually drink Bullit and Rittenhouse. They have the usual RYE zing that I like with ice and club soda. My local County Stores sell this along with the full CR line. I wasn’t aware till recently that CR had a RYE. Yeah I live a sheltered life. I find it to be quite tasty the way it drink RYE or Bourbon. I’m no connoisseur, but I know what I like. Truth is I don’t mind the extra $$ as long as it pleases my palate.
    Carry on Canada.

  9. Just tried this and enjoy the spicy rye-forward note. Glad to see it is 90 proof as the higher proof augments the flavor. Compared to Canadian Club 100 % Rye I feel the CR has a better flavor profile. Not your typical Canadian whisky sweet caramel/butterscotch. Would be better priced at $20-$25 but it is Crown Royal and the fancy box and velvet bag are going to cost you.

  10. I didn’t care for this at all at first, and was glad I only bought a 375. Nose was all alcohol. Extra bitter on the finish. Bleh. It had gotten kind of lost in my cabinet and I rediscovered it recently and I agree with you wholeheartedly, it does become a better pour after it’s open for a while. It sweetens up some and the finish loses some of the bitter grapefruit that was so off putting. In fact, I may even consider buying a full size bottle in the future. Still not whiskey of the year material, but Crown get an A+ for effort.

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