Almost every liquor brand nowadays has many variations of their original liquor and Crown Royal is no different. While variety and options are a good thing, it can also be overwhelming. Have you ever seen 5 different versions of the same brand and wondered which to buy? Which is better? What are the differences?
“In this guide, Crown Royal Varieties: What Are the Differences?”, we are going to answer these questions to help you figure out which is the best variety of Crown Royal for you. We are going to cover the best drinks for each and individual price points as well.
Crown Royal – The Basics
Before we get into all the different selections that Crown Royal has to offer, we think it’s important to discuss the basics of what exactly Crown Royal is. As per their website, Crown was initially created as a gift to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England in 1939 for their visit to Canada, which makes sense upon first glance of the bottle.
Crown Royal, then, is a Canadian whisky and specifically, a blended Canadian whisky. A blended whiskey simply means that two or more whiskeys were mixed together to create a blend. Usually, this involves blending a high quality whiskey with less expensive liquor.
Before we get into the real purpose of this article, I want to cover one last thing as you’ll see both throughout this article. Is it whiskey or whisky? In Scotland, Canada, and Japan it is spelled whisky without the ‘e’. In America and Ireland it is spelled whiskey. I reside in America, so I will refer to it as whiskey. When I speak about Crown specifically, I use whisky.
Crown Royal Varieties
Crown Royal has 17 different selections spread out over 4 different series’, 12 of which are still in production. The 4 series are as follows: Signature Series, Master Series, Flavor Series, and Retired Whiskies. There are 4 whiskies in each section and 5 in the retired.
Crown Royal Signature Series
1. Crown Royal Deluxe
Crown Royal Deluxe is the original Crown Royal that was created in 1939 for the King and Queen of England. It has hints of oak and vanilla and is regarded as a smooth whisky. It is made from a ‘bourbon mash bill’ – 64% corn 31.5% rye and 4.5% malted barley.
We recommend the basic Crown and Coke for the deluxe option. While there are certainly many other drink options to go for, there are also many other options of Crown. It is not the best of the variations to have on the rocks, nor is it the best for other, more creative cocktails, and at the end of the day, there is no going wrong with a Crown and Coke.
- ABV: 40% (80 proof)
- 750ml: $21-26
2. Crown Royal Rye
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is the Crown’s rye whisky option. This selection from their signature series drastically differentiates from their basic Deluxe version in that it contains 90% rye in its mash. In 2016, it won World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Annual Whisky Bible. It is a spicier option than Deluxe and has hints of pepper.
Here at Barrel & Brew, we generally prefer our rye whiskey on the rocks. Adding ice or even a splash of water will tame the spice a bit and create a smooth finish. Another option is to make an Old Fashion, or an Old Royal, as their website refers to it. Just add a little syrup, bitters, and a twist of orange.
- ABV: 45% (90 proof)
- 750ml: $28-$34
3. Crown Royal Black
Crown Royal Black is blended at a higher proof (90 proof) and is matured in charred oak barrels. As we discussed, Crown is already made from a bourbon mash bill and add to the fact that this whisky is matured in charred oak barrels, this makes Crown Royal Black very similar to a bourbon.
You can certainly drink Black on the rocks as well, but we recommend the ‘Black Whisky Sour’. Make this drink with Crown Royal Black, lemon juice, and some simple syrup.
- ABV: 45% (90 proof)
- 750ml: $27-33
4. Crown Royal Blender’s Mash
This selection was initially branded Bourbon Mash, but shortly after had to change the name to Blender’s Mash because bourbon can only be produced in America. The Deluxe is made from a blend of 50 whiskies and 5 mash bills. The Blender’s mash is simply a blend of the whiskies from one mash bill. It has the classic hints of vanilla found in crown with a little extra fruit on the palate.
This is similar to the Crown Royal Deluxe. It can be used in almost any cocktail, but it’s not the best for any specific option. That’s why we believe a Crown and Coke is the best option for the Blender’s Mash as well.
- ABV: 40% (80 proof)
- 750ml: $25-32
Crown Royal Master Series
5. Crown Royal XR (Blue/LaSalle)
Crown Royal XR is named for being extra rare. The LaSalle Distillery is a famed Canadian distillery and it burned down in 1992 leaving just a few barrels. It is whisky from those barrels that is used to make Crown Royal XR. Like the Crown Rye, Crown XR has a little peppery spice to it.
Crown Royal XR is very expensive and because of that it should be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
- ABV: 40% (80 proof)
- 750ml: $100+
6. Crown Royal XO
Crown Royal XO is the signature Crown that is aged in cognac barrels. The ‘XO’ stands for extra old which is just a tribute to cognac. The flavor of XO can be described as dry fruit with the staple hint of vanilla. The aging in cognac barrels makes Crown Royal XO a little more mild.
Try XO in the form of a sidecar. Simply add a touch of orange liqueur and lemon juice. Add sugar to the rim and garnish with fruit for a fancier cocktail.
For more specifics, check out our comparison guide between Crown XO, Crown Reserve, and Crown Black.
- ABV: 40% (80 proof)
- 750ml: $33-43
7. Crown Royal Reserve
Crown Royal Reserve is a blend of hand-selected barrels of Crown. The master blenders select casks that have aged longer and in better barrels to mix together to create Crown Royal Reserve. It is described to be velvety and mellow with hints of oak and vanilla.
Using the Reserve selection for an old fashion is never a bad idea. Mix in some Simple syrup and a couple dashes of bitters. Garnish with an orange twist and enjoy a smooth Reserve Old Fashioned.
- ABV: 40% (80 proof)
- 750ml: $39-50
8. Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finish
As the name suggests, this selection is the Crown Deluxe that is finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. You will smell the fruit heavily and taste butterscotch and caramel on the palate along with hints of those red grapes.
Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finish can be used most fancier cocktails, but we recommend it on the rocks for one simple reason – it is unique. You wont get the mixture of butterscotch and dried fruit, along with many other smells and flavors, from another selection of Crown whisky.
- ABV: 40.5% (81 proof)
- 750ml: $45-60
Crown Royal Flavor Series
In this series we are able to provide some more fun drink recipes, as the fruity flavors and cheaper price tags of these option allow for things to be a little more festive. We’ll also add the ABV and price below here since they are pretty similar throughout.
- ABV: 35% (70 proof)
- 750ml: $20-26
9. Crown Royal Regal Apple
Crown Royal Regal Apple is among the most popular of the flavored series. Crown is infused with Regal Gala Apple flavors. As you guessed it, this gives it a strong apple flavoring coupled with notes of caramel.
The Flavor Series is where we really get to mix up our drink recipes and recommendations. My absolute favorite is the Apple Pie Cocktail. Mix your Crown Apple with half a shot of RumChata, half a shot of cinnamon whiskey such as Fireball, and half a shot of whipped cream vodka. Shake it up with ice and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
If this sounds a little too much don’t worry, you can find many other recipes here. Crown Apple also makes a pretty good Crown & Coke.
10. Crown Royal Vanilla
Crown Royal is already teaming with hints of vanilla, and so they went ahead and infused it with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. While the vanilla flavor is strong, it has hints of Crème Brule and is supposed to have a creamy but light finish.
Eggnog isn’t only for Christmas time and the holidays… It’s also made for whiskey. Mix in a little Crown Vanilla with some eggnog and enjoy the hints of Crème Brule come to life. This drink can be enjoyed at all times, but, yes, it is a little more enjoyable with friends and family during the holidays or around a warm fire on a cold winter night.
11. Crown Royal Peach
Crown Royal Peach is a limited edition, seasonal release. Crown is infused with the flavor of Georgia peaches to create a very sweet concoction that has light hints of vanilla. Crown Royal Peach has almost a cult-like following. After being released in 2019 it gained a lot of attention from people on social media.
Once COVID-19 hit, the demand and following gained even more traction. So much so that liquor stores began limiting the number of bottles customers could buy. According to this article, the Crown Royal Peach stans were running from liquor store to liquor store or changing clothes and face masks in order to get their hands on more Crown Peach.
Crown Peach is a seasonal drink, and its meant to be enjoyed in late spring and summer. So, it’s obvious that summer drinks are the way to go, and if you’re going to have some southern peaches, you have to have some sweet tea as well. Mix your crown peach with some sweet tea and enjoy the cocktail under the sun.
For the 4th of July, celebrate with some red, white, and blue shots! Mix crown peach with grenadine for the red color on the bottom, add some blue curacao, and top it off with some whipped cream.
All-in-all, Crown Royal Peach is mostly just hype, but it’s a good flavored whisky and if you see a bottle laying around, go ahead and grab it, join in on the fun, and enjoy some summer cocktails.
12. Crown Royal Salted Caramel
Crown is mixed with the taste of “indulgent salted-caramels” to really bring out the creamy flavors of caramel that are found subtly throughout some of the other Crown selections.
If you have Crown Salted Caramel and Crown Apple laying around, try out the Caramel Apple. Mix in a shot of each with some ginger ale and a squeeze of lemon juice. Garnish with thinly sliced apples.
Crown Royal Retired Whiskies
It is difficult to find much information online about the Retired Whiskies. I have seen different things as to whether or not they’ve been discontinued or whether or not it is just no longer being exported to the states. Either way, I’m only going to briefly mention these whiskies below and perhaps add anything noteworthy.
13. Crown Royal XR (Red/Waterloo)
Similar to the XR Blue, the red version contains last of the whisky from the Waterloo distillery that burned down in 1993. This product has been discontinued, and I’ve seen it being sold online for as little as $650, but usually closer to $1800.
14. Crown Royal Honey
15. Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend
16. Crown Royal Maple
17. Crown Royal Texas Mesquite
Crown Royal Varieties Summary
Crown Royal is a highly regarded whisky and the best selling Canadian whisky out there. This should come as no surprise as Crown is available at nearly every bar and liquor store here in the states, and most of us probably know someone who loves their Crown.
Personally, I think you find the best value in their signature series. While the Crown Royal Norther Harvest Rye certainly isn’t the world’s best whisky as it was voted, it’s a very good bottle of rye at $30, and I feel the same about the Crown Royal Black. The Blender’s Mash and Deluxe are also very good options that come at a reasonable price.
When it comes to Crown Royal’s Master Series, I don’t see the same consistent value, but, nonetheless, there are options worth trying. I have no special ties to Canadian whisky or extensive knowledge of their distilleries and history. Therefore, spending an excess of $100 for a bottle of whisky doesn’t make much sense to me. If you collect rare whiskies or have some sort of connection or prior knowledge of the Lasalle distillery, then the Crown XR might be a good pick up for you.
The Crown Royal Reserve is also a good option if you can find it at the lower price point. Lastly, when it comes to the Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finish, I’d argue that it is worth trying for whisky enthusiast due to its extensive nose and array of flavors, but at the price point it is certainly not a staple for me.
To all the whisky snobs out there, you can skip this part: The Flavor Series. I like and appreciate that whiskey has branched out into different flavors so that more and more people can enjoy the ‘fruits’ of the whiskey distillation process. The flavors allow for creativity past the whiskey soda, old fashioned, manhattan, and whiskey rocks, and Crown Royal has a good selection of flavored whiskies for those interested.
Crown Royal has a whisky for everyone. From those who like fruity cocktails to whisky enthusiasts and all in-between. Is Crown the best whisky out there? No, I don’t think so. Does Crown have a wide selection of very good, quality whisky that comes at a reasonable price point? Yes, yes it does.
Check out our take on the different varieties of Jim Beam and Jack Daniels here.