Whisky Advocate

Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Canadian Whisky of the Year”: Crown Royal Cask No. 16

February 4th, 2010

Canadian Whisky of the Year

Crown Royal Cask No. 16, 40%, $100

This great whisky was also our award winner two years ago (only to be temporarily eclipsed by the limited-edition Canadian Club 150th Anniversary 30 year old bottling last year), and our opinion of it remains the same.

The well-established Crown Royal “Reserve” has long been one of the finest Canadian whiskies. It’s difficult to imagine one as good, let alone better. But over the past several years, the distillery started releasing limited edition, special release. The first one, Crown Royal XR, missed the mark. It showed its age on the finish, with too much oak influence. But its successor, Crown Royal Cask No. 16, is a silky-smooth ride the whole way.

Crown Royal has always been a stylish line of whiskies. This bottling adds a new dimension in flavor and texture with its cognac cask finishing. It’s a velvety, polished whisky with notes of creamy vanilla, butterscotch, nougat, dried fruit, and gentle spice, all well-defined and nicely balanced. Gently sweet, fruity finish. A very classy Canadian.

(Author’s note: the owners of Canadian Club asked to be excluded from consideration, because the 150th Anniversary was a one-time release and is no longer being produced.)

Tomorrow’s Malt Advocate Whisky Awards announcement: Irish Whiskey of the Year.

57 Responses to “Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Canadian Whisky of the Year”: Crown Royal Cask No. 16”

  1. Rick Duff says:

    Price on this has dropped a ton. I’ve seen it for $70 in Ohio (control state).. and picked some up at $60 in NY. I paid $70 for my first 1/2 bottle (which is finally gone.) This is a very nice whisky.

    • Seth Nadel says:

      In NJ they dropped the price significantly. It was ranging from $30-$50/bottle. At the moment, it’s not even available. I think it’s a great whisky. The price point was a little high, which might explain the less than impressive sales. Hopefully, they will adjust the price and more people will try it.

  2. John Hansell says:

    Rick, yes, I heard from someone else that the price has dropped. I guess the consumer balked at paying $100 for a Canadian whisky? Regardless, as far as Canadian whiskies go, this one shouldn’t disappoint.

  3. Red_Arremer says:

    But how “far” do Canadian Whiskies go? Besides Forty Creek, I’ve never had a Canadian whisky that I liked. Wonder what folks from Canada think of this stuff? I’ve heard that they have some decent things up there that don’t make it down to us.

    Has anyone tasted any of those Old Wizes (don’t know the spelling, only heard it said) that the Canadians like so much?

    • Rick Duff says:

      I’ve had the Wiser 18 – it’s very good.

      • Red_Arremer says:

        Ah, there’s the spelling. Is there anywhere you can pick it up in the US?

        • Rick Duff says:

          Yes.. you should be able to find it. I’ve seen it in South Carolina, Indiana, and California. I picked mine up at Duty Free crossing from Canada into the US.

          • osu33jp says:

            I bought two cases at $30. The shop in NJ area used to sell from $30 to $35. You still can find it in CA at around $40. It is worth to chase it down. Good luck!

  4. Rick Duff says:

    I think you’re right about people not willing to pay so much for luxury Canadian Whisky. I forgot to mention that at Duty Free (Canada/US border) the price also has dropped.
    Last year’s winner (CC 30 year) also was on sale at Duty Free for about $100 in October (my last time crossing.) I spent 50% more for my bottle when it came out. That last trip though I picked up my bottle (at the distillery) of 40 Creek Port Wood.. that is a very very nice whisky as well.

  5. John Hansell says:

    This is a good time to mention that there are some really nice Canadian whiskies NOT imported into the U.S. No doubt, some of these names will surface in this thread.

    • Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Rye Whisky

      A hidden Canadian gem … the ONLY 100% Rye Whisky north of the border; and for $30 CDN … where else can you find a 25 YO whisk(e)y for that price???

      • JWC says:

        Patsy, thanks for the info about the Canadian Rye – I clicked on your link and what I read sounds very promising and at that price, who can resist? Now, it’s a matter of FINDING it.

      • MrTH says:

        Is AP25 really 100% rye? Didn’t taste it to me–in fact, I wasn’t overly impressed with it, thought it very light and rather bland. Admittedly a small sample–should probably give it another try.

        • I’d recommend giving it another go TH … you may have tasted the regular AP (5YO) which is widely available in Canada and sometimes north US, but the limited edition 25YO is only available in Alberta as far as I know. Unless you know what you’re looking for, you probably won’t come across it.

          “Alberta Premium won “Canadian Whisky of the Year” in Jim Murray’s 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Whisky Bibles. New late in 2007, the 25-year-old Limited Edition bottling won the honour in the 2008 Whisky Bible” … not that we all agree with Jim obviously (

  6. Monique at the Dell says:

    The Cask 16 has been my favorite Canadian since it came out. It’s nice to see that the price has come down. We will certainly continue to buy it. It’s interesting that we haven’t seen more Canadian (or American) whiskey makers age in Cognac.

    I also like the Pike Creek, finished in Port, and the Lot 40, straight rye with rye malt. The Lot 40 seems to fade in and out of production, it’s a McCormick import to the US, so I haven’t seen it newly available in a while, normally runs about $35/bottle. Looks like we’ve found my lunch dram!

  7. JD says:

    Price drop indeed. I found the CR Cask No. 16 selling for $35 (!!!) in Ohio over Christmas. I bought three bottles. Maybe tonight I will go crack one open…

    Whatever happened last fall seems to have passed though. Binnys had it at around $50; it”s back up to $100 now.

    Congrats to Crown Royal for the award!

  8. Aaron says:

    This is the best Canadian Whiskey I have had. Its selling for about $30-$40 in upstate NY. Other than the 100 proof Rittenhouse Rye ($18), I think this is the best value going.

  9. lawschooldrunk says:

    Hmmm, maybe I should have bought one when I saw it in the high 30s. I wasn’t trying Canadian whiskies then 🙁

  10. JWC says:

    John, you really are going to make me go back on my New Year’s resolution of buy less, drink more. I had a question – I see that you rated in 2008 the cask 16 as a ’95’ and noted that it was the best effort yet. You also rated an older special reserve as a ’95’ but based on your later comment that you believe the cask 16 was it’s best effort to date (after you rated the special reserve a 95, I assume you believe that the cask 16 is better (that and the fact that the cask 16 again won your Canadian whiskey award and the special reserve didn’t)), I have a question: I am guessing that even with the same distillery, not all numerically identical ratings are the same – true? What would it have taken the cask 16 to be a say, 96, rather than a 95 like the special reserve previously? I’m just curious because I’d like to understand your rating system better. Like I posted previously, recently, I’ve grown to depend on your ratings/views for my purchases because I’ve found that you are much more accurate.

    Good news for me – assuming that they still have them in stock – it appears I can purchase CR cask 16 for about $60 here in Houston. FINALLY I get a break.

    • John Hansell says:

      JWC, that’s a good (and fair) question. I’m glad you asked it. Yes, I rated the Special Reserve and the Cask No. 16 the same (95). I think both are great products, just slightly different from each other. The Special Reserve is more “Traditional Canadian” if you will, while the Cask No. 16 has a different twist, based on the cognac cask finishing.

      Our “Best of the Year” awards are not based purely on numerical ratings. We also consider certain intangibles, such as intent, pioneering effort, etc. And in the case of “ties” and close ratings, these other intangibles factor in significantly. (Other publications, like the Wine Specator, use similar logic. Their “Top 100” for the year, isn’t purely the highest 100 rated wines.)

      I thought that the Cognac finishing was a cool idea. (And many times Cognac finishing doesn’t work if overdone.) It showed “additional effort and creativity” which we wanted to recognize. That’s why we picked the Cask No. 16. I hopes this helps to clarify.

      • JWC says:

        John, thanks for the clarification – appreciate it. Now I am tempted to buy both (assuming they are both available – I’ll know in a couple of hours =) and do a side by side comparison. I cannot recall when the last time I drank CR (15 – 20 years ago and it was “regular” CR). I was going to get your “Best Buys” award winners and a Glenmorangie 10 yo today and make it a scotch weekend (definitely have to set my bourbon and port tuned palate back to neutral) but may have to pick up the 2 CR’s as well. Remember what I said about my wife, frying pan and your head – don’t say you weren’t warned 😉

        • John Hansell says:

          JWC, for now you can just get the Cask No. 16. I don’t know how long it will be on the market, and there seems to be some great deals out there on it. I don’t think the Reserve will be disappearing anytime soon.

  11. Texas says:

    All of this makes me want to give Canadian another go. The first time I tried regular Crown not mixed with Coke, I basically thought it tasted like nothing. Maybe my palate doesn’t have enough finesse for Canadian. But maybe I will give the Forty Creek and CR Special Reserve a try.

  12. JWC says:

    John, thanks for the advice – will do. Texas, Spec’s has the Cask No. 16 on sale for $60 until the 27th of this month, then the price goes up (to $80 or $90 – can’t remember now). I still need to look up the other store n see if the Colorado whiskey is less expensive.

  13. BFishback says:

    Found some of this today at the liquor store for ….$110. So it is definitely still expensive in some areas(Maryland).

  14. The price of the Cask #16 has gone down a lot in NY. The Cognac finish gives the whisky some amazing flavor. The entry level Crown Royal is a staple here in WNY & the enthusiastic whiskey drinkers here have fallen in love with the Cask #16. Being so close to Canada & the Forty Creek distillery, I can attest to how great their product is & how frustrating it can be not to get some of their best stuff here in the US (the Port Wood Reserve was great).

  15. JWC says:

    John and everyone, regarding the MSRP and the notion of Canadian whiskey, today, a worker who knows me said: “you’re going to buy CANADIAN whiskey instead of all the American bourbon that’s available? I know you know better.”

    • John Hansell says:

      JWC, variety is the spice of life, as they say. Make it part of your whisky portfolio. 🙂

      • JWC says:

        John, the only reason why I mentioned that comment was that the worker was an employee of a liquor store here in Houston and he’s seen my purchases and we have had discussions about bourbon. I agree with you about variety. I’ve been drinking bourbon and port almost exclusively for about a year and am having difficulty getting back into Scotch. Perhaps not such a bad thing – definitely will save me money.

        • Red_Arremer says:

          Definetly will save you money, JWC. But if you’re looking for a decent value in scotch and a whisky that’s big enough to taste against bourbon or port, keep a look out for the An Cnoc 16- A massive, creamy, traditional highland whisky with stunning mouthfeel and a great finish! It’s coming to the US soon and I hear the price should be pretty reasonable.

          • JWC says:

            Red, thanks for the advice – I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it. I drank a few drams of Glenmorangie 10 yo last night to try and get back into Scotch. Perhaps not the best choice to do so – after drinking bourbon and port, the Glenmorangie’s “lightness” really stood out.

  16. Matt B. says:

    A quick online search found NJ retailer Bourbon St. Wine & Spirits selling the 375ml Cask 16 for $17.99, so I’ll be driving around tomorrow to see if any of the locations nearby have it in stock. I tried the Crown Royal Reserve (formerly Special Reserve?) at Bonefish Grill last week and enjoyed it very much.

    • John Hansell says:

      Matt B., I didn’t even know they sold it in 375 ml. And yes, it was formally “Special Reserve”.

    • JWC says:

      WOW that is inexpensive. I saw the 375ml here in Houston and I think it was either $30 or $40 – can’t remember. They also have the 1Liter (or was it 1.5?) but the sale price of the 750ml makes purchasing the larger bottle unreasonable – better off buying 2 of the 750ml bottles.

  17. John Hansell says:

    One of the cool things about blogging is that we can share prices from across the country (and world!)

  18. Jim from Boston says:

    I usually find Canadian whisky a bit on the wimpy side but last year I found a tasting table set up at my local retailer that was pouring Crown Royal Cask No. 16. One taste was all it took to convince me this was indeed a very fine whisky, and the best Canadian I have ever had. Of course, in the interest of being fair I had to ask for a second taste ,) I hope to bring home a bottle some day. That day will come a lot sooner if my retailer makes the mistake mentioned above of dropping it to $35. I’ll empty the shelf and put it all on the plastic if I have to.

    Good choice.

  19. Random CDN says:

    I’m shocked and slightly dismayed at some of the price points you guys have been sharing. In Vancouver, Canada I would be paying $99.99 for a 750ml of No. 16. Perhaps I’ll pick up a bottle next time I’m in the US. Thanks for the recommendation.

  20. WhiskyFan says:

    Keep in mind each state has very different tax laws on spirits, thus very different costs. And Cask No 16 just took a significant price decrease in the last 3 months, and not all retailers may have that reflective in their retails.

  21. jbart65 says:

    I found the Cask No. 16 in Montgomery County, MD, near DC, for $51 a bottle on sale, less than $54 including tax. It cost $100 to $110 at four local DC retailers I checked before lucking into the MD sale. Just an FYI for people in that area.

    Cask No. 16 has an incredible nose, especially after a few drops of water. Lots of butterscotch, caramel and toffee. Very smooth with a warm, gently spiced finish. Distinct from a Scotch or bourbon, but very nice.

  22. Matt Z says:

    On sale at Astor in NYC right now for $47.99! Pretty good price even with shipping costs.

  23. Ray Abraham says:

    I tried a bottle of Crown Royal Deluxe last night. It was much,much darker than what Crown Royal ever was. The taste was so sweet with maple syrup and cinnamon. The kicker was that it had NO alcohol sensation at all. I told my Dad I could pour this on his pancakes and he’d not know the difference! Did our friends at Crown tweak the recipe? I emailed them today. Thanks.

  24. Ray Abraham says:


    Thank you for the reply. Crown Royal Deluxe is the regular bottling of Crown here in the States. The label says Fine Deluxe. Anyway, why the much darker color (almost like a watered down coke) and the sweet maple taste? Thanks again,

  25. Ray Abraham says:

    Thank you John! I’ll savor the last half of my bottle! One last question, what do you think about Canadian Club Classic 12 Year old? Rating?
    Thanks again, it is a pleasure communicating with you sir.

  26. Ray Abraham says:

    Hello again John,
    Does Mr. Hall have anything like his Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve ( I know not available in US) coming to the US markets in 2010? His whisky’s are great. Thanks

  27. Jerry Brodt says:

    I have to agree greatly that cask 16 is a complex and amazing whiskey at a great discount to european whiskey. John your expert palate brings us to find great whiskey at extraordinary prices. Thank you

    As for hard finds, does anyone know of 30year old Canadian Club for under $150 ???

  28. another canadian says:

    i’m kinda wondering how my wisers limited edition 18 year old will compare to crown royal special reserve and cask no. 16, any hints? I am only 19 years old amd new to whiskey drinking’ so any tips on what to try next would be much appreciated.


  29. another canadian says:

    also im in canada and our drinking age is 18 here lol

  30. Wood says:

    picked up a 375ml of this at hoosick st wine and liquor in troy ny for $29. it’s great for that price!

  31. […] Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is INCREDIBLE whisky. How incredible? Well, the Malt Advocate named it “Canadian Whisky of the Year.” I think that screams volumes. If you look at MA’s suggested retail price, it says […]

  32. […] Malt Advocate Whiskey Awards continue.  Since our last Best in Blog, Crown Royal Cask #16 has won best Canadian Whisky of the year, and Parker’s Heritage Collection “Golden […]

  33. Ray says:

    Has anyone,including John , tried Texas Crown Club Canadian Whiskey?

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