The best-selling Canadian whisky brand in the world and holder of the World Whisky Brand Champion 2020, Crown Royal continues to gain popularity amongst whisky aficionados. With a record volume sales of over 8 million liter cases worldwide in 2019, it’s surprising that there’s still a lot about this whisky brand that remains unknown among the general whisky consumers. In this post, we share 10 little-known facts about Crown Royal.
1. Crown Royal isn't the only Canadian Whisky produced at the Gimli Distillery.
When the 19th-century Icelandic immigrants settled near Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, they were glad to have escaped from the fiery volcanoes of their homeland. As a result, they named their new home 'Gimli', which means 'safe haven from hellfire' in Icelandic.
Today, Gimli is home to the production of Crown Royal whisky. But Crown Royal isn’t the only Canadian Whisky produced at the Gimli distillery.
There are actually several different Canadian Whisky labels, such as Canadian 83 and Seagram's VO currently produced at the distillery. But with over 1.4 million barrels (more barrels of whisky than there are people in Manitoba) aging in 46 warehouses, Crown Royal is by far the best-selling whisky out of Gimli.
2. Production of Crown Royal Whisky is a 24/7 Business.
Crown Royal is a blend of 50 whiskies, each of which is produced in individual warehouses located on Diageo’s 360-acre property in Gimli. This massive large-scale production requires approximately 10,000 bushels of corn, rye, and barley. Most of which is sourced from Manitoba and other local provinces.
It also needs roughly 900,000 gallons of water each day from nearby Lake Winnipeg, which is popular for its extensive limestone deposits. Limestone water is excellent for whisky-making as it adds nutrients like magnesium and calcium that yeast needs to thrive.)
So it’s no surprise production at Gimli Distillery runs nonstop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
3. Technically Crown Royal is not Rye Whisky.
Rye has the ability to withstand prolonged exposure to low temperatures. So with Canada often experiencing sub-zero temperatures, you get why rye is a staple ingredient in Crown Royal whisky.
But that doesn’t mean Crown Royal whisky = rye. Unlike U.S. distillers who combine the grains before mashing them, Canadian distillers mash the grains individually and then combine them as separate whiskies. This means that Canadian blended whisky may contain zero, some, or a 50%+ rye.
For example, the 2016 World Whisky of the Year Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is made with 90% rye. On the one hand, American “rye whiskey,” legally must contain at least 51 percent rye while there are no rules regarding rye that Canadian distillers must follow.
That said, Canadian whisky must then be aged for a minimum of three years before it can be removed from the barrel, bottled, and enjoyed.
4. Crown Royal Got into the Canned Cocktails Business in 2021
For many consumers, the ease of being able to pop open a can and take a sip of a cocktail that’s just as good as the one they get in a bar is extremely appealing. So if a 20 percent jump in canned cocktail market growth from 2016 to 2019 is anything to go by, ready-to-drink cocktails are here to stay.
And Crown Royal whats a share of this emerging market. In March 2021, the whiskey brand launched a line of three flavors: Crown Royal Whisky & Cola, Peach Tea, and a Washington Apple.
5. Crown Royal is More Liberal in How it Ages Whisky.
Bourbon whiskey can only be aged in charred new oak barrels. Crown Royal like other Canadian whiskies, is more liberal in the casks it uses. The Gimli distillery ages its whisky using a wide variety of barrels and casks. They include virgin oak barrels, charred oak, wine casks, and cognac casks.
By using these different casks and barrels, Crown Royal has complete control over how each whisky is aged allowing for a wide range of flavors — everything from vanilla and smoke to dried fruit and spices.
6. Crown Royal Classifies its Whiskies in 4 Categories.
Crown Royals various blended Canadian whiskies are designated to one of four categories: Signature Series, Master Series, Flavor Series and Retired Whiskies. The primary difference between the first 3 blends is how they are aged while retired whiskies are no longer in production but may still be available for purchase.
The Signature Series includes Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, Crown Royal Black, Crown Royal Blender’s Mash, and Crown Royal Deluxe, which is the closest resemblance to the original handcrafted Crown Royal whiskey for the King and Queen of England.
The Master Series includes Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finished, Crown Royal Reserve, Crown Royal XO and Crown Royal XR.
The Flavor Series contains several varieties of specific flavors identified by their titles – Apple, Peach, Salted Caramel and Vanilla.
7. Diageo Owns Crown Royal and Johnnie Walker.
The Crown Royal brand was created in 1939 by Samuel Bronfman, president of Seagram, to honor King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s first trip to Canada. But now Crown Royal is owned by Diageo, who purchased the brand in 2001 together with Captain Morgan rum for $5 billion when the Seagram portfolio was dissolved.
Currently, Diageo is the 5th biggest liquor company in the world with net sales of $8.2 billion in the first half of 2021. It also owns other global whisky brands such as Johnnie Walker and J&B.
8. Crown Royal Packaging First Whisky to Feature Nutritional Information.
Look at a Crown Royal whisky packaging panel. You’ll probably see details on the serving size, number of servings per container, alcohol by volume, number of calories and grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat per serving.
But did you know that in 2015, Crown Royal became the first whisky brand shipped in the U.S. that features nutritional information on the packaging panel details? Many people don't realize that before 2013, the US Treasury's Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), did not actually allow for alcoholic beverage manufacturers to list these basic serving facts on most labels of alcohol products.
In fact, it’s Diageo, the owner of Crown Royal, that petitioned to be allowed to include this important information on its packaging. Since 2006, Diageo has provided serving facts information about its brands on its responsible drinking website (https://www.drinkiq.com)
9. 1M+ Care Packages Have Been Sent in their Timeless Purple Bags.
Since 2010, Crown Royal has been working with Packages From Home, a non-profit focused on providing active-duty American servicemen, and military K9s as well as homeless, transitioning, and at-risk veterans with care packages that include food, handwritten note, personal hygiene, entertainment, and recreation items.
Do you have any of those iconic purple Crown Royal bags lying around? You can donate them to Packages From Home.
In the spirit of giving back, Crown Royal teamed up with country music star Thomas Rhett in 2018 to give away one million care packages to those affected by natural disasters by 2020.
10. Crown Royal Whisky is Column Distilled.
Any discussion of whiskey distillation will always feature pot stills versus column stills. Column stills allow continuous distillation, meaning they're capable of drastically higher production than pot stills, which require cleaning after each batch.
In general, pot stills produce a more flavored distillate making them the preferred option for producing spirits like single malt Scotch and Cognac, while column stills are preferred for neutral spirits, like gin and vodka.
That being said, Crown Royal 12 column stills stop well short of stripping away flavor while still efficiently producing corn, barley, and rye distillates to be blended into the different Crown Royal whiskies we all love.
Which fact about Crown Royal did you find most surprising? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!