Crown Royal Launches Premium "Black"
by David Kiley (RSS feed) Mar 29th 2010 at 4:01PM

Crown Royal Canadian Whisky has just released a new expression, Crown Royal Black. Darker in color and deeper in body, the Canadian whisky is bended at 90 proof and takes aging from charred oak barrels, which gives it both the added depth and color.

The price is about $30 per bottle, which represents a slight premium over the flagship Crown Royal expression. In my opinion, Crown Royal, owned by spirits giant Diageo, could get a bit more for Crown Royal Black. Canadian Whisky, however, struggles to earn higher prices for its spirits because of sub-par marketing around the whole industry in Canada. I would not chalk this problem up to Diageo, but rather Canada and the industry as a whole.

I tasted Black alongside the flagship, and if I had my way the new Black would become the new flagship product. While Crown Royal has always been a nice smooth blend, I have long felt that it suffers a bit in the marketplace for over familiarity and questionable merchandising. It's hard to put my finger on it, but when I see mini bottles of Crown Royal dumped into a fishbowl at the counter at a liquor store, I don't think premium. And that is an all-too frequent sight. I do like the velvet bag, though.

So, this is good news for whisky drinkers, or course. I think the Crown Royal Black product tastes more like a $40 whisky, but it is selling for about $30. The taste notes of maple and caramel are deeper, and longer without turning the expression into something a whole lot different from the signature Crown Royal taste and finish. A nice job was done here of making the good things in Crown Royal better and more distinct. It was overdue, as well, since many brands like Johnnie Walker and Jameson's have long been in the "Black" premium expression business.