Crown Royal is the best-selling Canadian whisky in the world. So, it’s no surprise Crown Royal XR won the Chairman’s Trophy at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in 2019 (the highest honor in the industry).
But how has this blended whisky brand grown to be this popular? In this post, we cover the success story of Crown Royal.
The Origin of Crown Royal
The Crown Royal brand traces its history back to 1939, during the historic visit of monarchs King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada.
Upon hearing about the royal couple's visit to his country, Sam Brofman (a Canadian spirits entrepreneur) set out to craft a whisky worthy of the reigning monarchs.
Legend has it that the whisky distiller painstakingly tested out over 600 blends before settling on the final product. He then packaged the whisky in a cut-glass decanter and regal purple bag with gold stitching.
The royal couple relished the whisky so much that their train was stocked with 10 cases.
Crown Royal - Rise to the Top
From 1939 to 1964, Crown Royal whisky was sold exclusively in Canada. However, as Canadian oil workers migrated to Houston, Texas, to work on the oil rigs in the sixties, they brought Crown Royal with them as their whisky of choice. After that, its popularity rose quickly in the United States. Soon after, Crown Royal started exporting its whisky to the country.
During this time, Crown Royal was run by Seagram Company Ltd and production was at the historic Waterloo Distillery until the 1980s. Production was then moved to the Gimli distillery.
In 2001 Diageo and Pernod Ricard acquired Seagram for $5 billion. The acquisition brought Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey into the Diageo brand family.
Under Diageo, the Crown Royal sales volume has been increasing each year steadily since 2014. In 2019 Crown Royal was the second-best-selling whisky brand in the United States after Jack Daniel’s.
Crown Royal’s Gimli Distillery
Crown Royal distillery is located in the lakeside town of Gimli in the Canadian province of Manitoba. This is Crown Royal’s only distillery. The distillery gets its water from lake Winnipeg that has rich limestone deposits underneath it.
As we mentioned in the Jack Daniel’s success story, limestone adds minerals like magnesium and calcium that yeast needs to thrive. This is great because yeast is one of the primary ingredients for making whiskey together with water and grain (barley, rye, or corn).
Crown Royal sources more than 80% of its grain from Manitoba and surrounding provinces. Similar to Jack Daniel’s distillery, the whisky aging period is determined by master whiskey tasters. But unlike Jack Daniel’s, Crowd Royal produces blended whisky.
This means after aging instead of bottling immediately; different whiskies are mixed to make the final product. The distillery currently has 51 warehouses that hold more whiskey barrels than the entire population of Manitoba!
Popular Crown Royal Whiskies
Crown Royal boasts of an award-winning family of artfully blended whiskies. Below are five of its most known whiskies.
Crown Royal Deluxe
The classic Crown Royal, Crown Royal Deluxe, comes in the signature purple pouch and can be found virtually everywhere. This is the whisky Sam Brofman gifted the royal couple. It’s subtly smooth with hints of oak and the sweet flavor of vanilla.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
The first Canadian Whisky to earn World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Annual Whisky Bible, 2016. It combines the distinctive flavor of Canadian rye grain with the unmistakable smoothness of Crown Royal. It’s packaged in an off-white felt-like bag.
Crown Royal Black
This is a darker 90% proof whisky that was introduced in 2010. It’s matured in charred oak barrels and comes in a black felt-like bag.
Crown Royal XO
It’s an elegant whisky that is delicately balanced with hints of vanilla, spice, and rich dry fruit. This whisky, introduced in 2014, is packaged in a bag with gray and gold embroidery accents.
Crown Royal Reserve
This blend is aged longer than most for the perfect balance of flavor and depth. This whisky, introduced in 1992, comes in a tan, velvet-like bag with coarse gold drawstrings.
Crown Royal offers versatile whiskey that’s perfect for any season. It’s an ideal whiskey for the modern gentleman and can be drunk in different ways.
If you prefer your whisky simple, pour your favorite Crown Royal whisky in an old-fashioned glass and enjoy straight away.