Royal Reserve Canadian Rye Whisky
This is a Corby's brand, a long-established Ontario distillery (originally from Belleville, about 90 miles east of Toronto along the lake). It never occurred to me to buy this but I thought I'd give it a try when reading about Hiram Walker's takeover by Fortune Brands (whch has bought at least Canadian Club and maybe the other HW ryes which are Wiser's and Royal Reserve). Some years ago majority control of Corby was bought by Hiram Walker.
I also read that Lot 40 is the flavoring rye for Corby (I think John Lipman told me this) and I like Lot 40, so this was another stimulus to buy the blend.
Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised - this is a very tasty, old-fashioned rye whisky. The Lot 40 effect is quite noticeable but it is well blended, the whisky has a light sweetness possibly from caramel addition but it suits the blend very well. The rye element shows itself in a steely, spicy edge. I have tried to improve Canadian whiskies by adding Lot 40 or other true rye whiskey and would consider myself well-skilled if I could make one that tastes like Royal Reserve.
Sometimes it is the quiet, unassuming brands like Royal Reserve that best reflect what Canadian rye was like many years ago, another example is Schenley OFC. The top grades of Crown Royal (Reserve, Limited Edition) also show the style very well but of all of them I think Royal Reserve has the strongest taste of the flavoring rye whisky element. Well done, Corby.
The blenders of our whiskies work anonymously (except for John Hall of Kittling Ridge who appears at tastings). They are not known like Elmer Lee or Chris Morris but some of them do good work and if it was publicised maybe they would give more attention to the interests of whisky fans. One positive side effect of the takeover by Jim Beam of Canadian Club may be to encourage the people behind CC and associated brands to step forward (a la Freddy Noe) and speak to consumers directly about their products.