Is the world ready to try a high-end, 23-year-old flavored whiskey? One brand is banking on the answer being “yes,” and thus Crown Royal Golden Apple was born. As the newest entry in Crown Royal’s Master Series, Golden Apple is a blend of Canadian whiskies aged for 23 long years that is flavored with golden delicious apples and then presented in a beautiful ombré gold bottle. It’s worth noting that this expression also marks the beginning of a collaboration between Crown Royal and multidisciplinary artist Solange Knowles, who is said to be a “brand adorer” and hosted the expression’s launch party while debuting her own collection of hand-blown glassware at a recent event in New York City.
Crown Royal punches up the presentation with this release by completing it with a green and gold variation on their iconic suede-finish dust bags and housing it all in a similarly designed box. All in all, the presentation is a few notches beneath your typical upscale whiskey packaging, but kudos to Crown Royal for attempting to meet their ambitious price tag with a slightly elevated bundle.
“This disruptive new liquid offering is a result of a shared commitment to innovation and creativity that speaks to our fans that have been patiently waiting for an evolution of Regal Apple,” said Hadley Schafer, Director of Crown Royal Whisky. “Launching a partnership with an artist like Solange Knowles brings the expertise of a leading whisky brand and the fresh perspective and vision of a creative trailblazer who routinely pushes artistic boundaries together in such an authentic manner. We are excited to continue creating tasteful, groundbreaking experiences following this launch.”
My curiosity certainly got the best of me with this one, and despite typically eschewing flavored whiskey I couldn’t help but dive in to see what premium flavored whiskey might taste like. The result? While the standard Crown Royal Regal Apple release is sickly sweet, like sour apple candy in cough syrup form, Crown Royal Golden Apple is decidedly more honey-forward and markedly less artificially sweet in flavor. The nose still has a distinct sour apple candy aroma, but there’s also far more depth apparent along with a notable and well-executed oak influence.
The palate is oily, bordering on rich, and there’s a nice touch of malt flavor that punches through as it lingers on the tongue. Make no mistake, the artificial flavoring is evident but not overdone, and the underlying whiskey survives its onslaught despite being a modest 80 proof.
While I’m not entirely convinced that premium flavored whiskey is a category that will catch on (let alone one that needs to exist), Crown Royal Golden Apple is still an interesting peek into what such an innovation might look like. Achieving a balance between being approachable and obviously artificial while still showcasing a halfway decent base whiskey is of note here. However, what stands out most about this experiment is the persistent questions that arise from it. Does this make sense? Who is the intended market? Should you own a bottle? That final question is the easiest to put to rest because despite being a curious and not-unlikable experiment, for the princely sum of $250 one finds it difficult to answer in the affirmative.
C+ / $250 / crownroyal.com