Crown Royal Blenders’ Mash has already had a pretty exciting year, as far as whiskey goes. It created controversy when it was released earlier this year as Crown Royal Bourbon Mash—a tribute to the bourbon-style whiskey used predominantly in the making of this particular blended Canadian whisky, but also in violation of the labeling rules for bourbon.
As you may or may not know, bourbon has a rather strict set of criteria it must meet to call itself bourbon: It must be aged in new, charred American oak barrels, for one. It must be made from 51 percent corn. It doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky (that’s a common misconception), but it definitely has to be made in the United States.
Yet Bourbon Mash got approval somehow, and actually made it to U.S. shelves with the word bourbon on the label. The suspicion is that it initially received approval because “bourbon mash” does not indicate that it’s actually bourbon you’re buying, but the American distillers have since put an end to that, and now we have Blender’s Mash.
If you happen to see a remaining bottle of Bourbon Mash or two on shelves, here’s a tip: Grab them—they might be collector’s items one day. But we’d have to say Blender’s Mash is worth buying, too.
It’s a finesseful whisky (the Canadians don’t use the “e” spelling), but not so light that it feels weak. The trademark Crown Royal softness and sweetness are there, but compared to your typical Crown bottlings, this one is full of deeper, heartier flavors, almost smoky with burnt sugar notes. It has vanilla and oak, not a lot of heat or butterscotch—and we have to commend Crown Royal for bottling it at a great proof point of 80, which made it endlessly drinkable neat.
The bottom line: We don’t really care about the controversy, and while this won’t replace any of our bold and big bourbon favorites, it’s a nice in-between bottle that will mix well and drink easy.
At $28, it’s competitive with other Crown Royal products, and for someone beginning the transition from blends to bourbon or rye, this is a lovely bottle and a friendly welcome to the whiskey table.