Crown Royal Maple Finished Whisky


The Top Line: Depending on your tastes, Crown Royal’s new maple-flavored whisky is either a rich, mouth-watering maple-caramel treat or a harshly-flavored abomination. After a few tastes tests, I find myself leaning in both directions depending on my mood.


Canadian whisky is frequently the least-loved member of the world’s whiskey styles by connoisseurs. One reason is they are usually blended whiskies (that is, a blend of whiskies made from malted barley and whiskey made from other grains), light in body and flavor.

While there has been a blossoming of artisanal Canadian whiskies in the past few years, the old-line brands like Canadian Club, Canadian Mist and Crown Royal still define the style in America.

Crown Royal’s packaging is iconic: the crown-shaped bottle nestled in a embroidered cloth bag and boxed all reinforce the image as a premium Canadian whisky.

Despite those somewhat corn-ball trappings, regular Crown Royal is really not a bad whisky and it’s more flavorful than big names like Jack Daniel’s. I admire the consistency the brand can maintain by blending different whiskies from different mash bills and distlled in different years to achieve a uniform flavor.

Crown Royal Maple Finished whisky is the brand’s first entry into the exploding market of flavored whiskies. Some flavors (cherry or red hots candy) have been a less natural fit than others (honey).

Maple is a natural compliment for the caramel and vanilla notes that are characteristic of most whiskeys.

Crown Royal is a little mysterious about how it achieves this flavor. It’s described as “adding a hint of natural maple flavoring” to the finished whisky and also as running the finished whisky over “maple toasted oak”.

That last phrase is a little confusing, since maple and oak are both types of wood, but apparently it means the oak chips have been toasted to bring out maple-like notes.

Crown Royal’s phrasing seems to rule out use of artificial maple flavors, but the maple flavor in this whisky is a bit overwhelming, more-so in the nose than on the tongue. The scent is strong, although it’s clean.

It’s also more noticeably sweeter than whiskey should be, although is avoids the sticky and syrupy feel and taste of other flavors like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey.

After several tastings, my feelings about the maple flavor are split. At times, it seems like a perfect compliment to the vanilla and caramel flavors that make straight whiskey a pleasure. At other times, I note a strange after-taste that seems harsh and chemically.

Ultimately, the maple flavor is strong enough and odd enough that it won’t replace my fondness for the sublime flavors of a straight whiskey.

All this highlights the reality that the impression a whiskey (or other complex beverages like beer or coffee) leaves are ruled as much be mental state, flavors left over from earlier meals, scents in the room, etc.

Overall, I have no doubt that Crown Royal Maple Finished will be a hit.  (I can’t figure out what it would mix with…maple and cola sounds disgusting, maple and Red Bull even moreso.)

Note: I’ve alternated between “whisky/whiskies” and “whiskey/whiskeys” above. In general, the term “whiskey” is used for the entire class, but “whisky” is used when speaking specifically of Canadian styles.


The Details

Crown Royal Maple Finished Canadian Whisky
Distilled by Diageo at Gimli, Manitoba, Canada
80 Proof / 40% ABV
Introduced 2012


[Sight of the Day] My Three Bikes

Saturday, September 1, 2012 (Germantown TN)—Here’s a sight that occurred today for the first time and may never be seen again: all three of my bikes in the garage at one time. With el Bandido about to be up for sale and the Silver Bullet recently sold, the Blue Bolt should be bunking alone before long.

The bikes:

  • 2003 Suzuki Bandit 1200S (GSF1200S) in Metallic Surf Green—el Bandido Cerceta (the Teal Bandit)
  • 2010 Yamaha FJR1300 (FJR13AZS) in Liquid Silver—The Silver Bullet
  • 2012 Yamaha FJR1300 (FJR13ABL) in Cobalt Blue—The Blue Bolt

[Sight of the Day] My Three Bikes

Saturday, September 1, 2012 (Germantown TN)—Here’s a sight that occurred today for the first time and may never be seen again: all three of my bikes in the garage at one time. With el Bandido about to be up for sale and the Silver Bullet recently sold, the Blue Bolt should be bunking alone before long.

The bikes:

  • 2003 Suzuki Bandit 1200S (GSF1200S) in Metallic Surf Green—el Bandido Cerceta (the Teal Bandit)
  • 2010 Yamaha FJR1300 (FJR13AZS) in Liquid Silver—The Silver Bullet
  • 2012 Yamaha FJR1300 (FJR13ABL) in Cobalt Blue—The Blue Bolt

[Sight of the Day] My Three Bikes

Saturday, September 1, 2012 (Germantown TN)—Here’s a sight that occurred today for the first time and may never be seen again: all three of my bikes in the garage at one time. With el Bandido about to be up for sale and the Silver Bullet recently sold, the Blue Bolt should be bunking alone before long.

The bikes:

  • 2003 Suzuki Bandit 1200S (GSF1200S) in Metallic Surf Green—el Bandido Cerceta (the Teal Bandit)
  • 2010 Yamaha FJR1300 (FJR13AZS) in Liquid Silver—The Silver Bullet
  • 2012 Yamaha FJR1300 (FJR13ABL) in Cobalt Blue—The Blue Bolt

[Motorcycles in Film] Then Came Bronson (1969)

Then Came Bronson / U.S. / 1969 / 98 minutes

Then Came Bronson is a made-for TV film that also served as the pilot episode for an ongoing series that lasted one season. The movie aired in March 1969 and the series began the following fall.

The film stars Michael Parks as Jim Bronson, a newspaper reporter whose values are shaken when he sees his friend commit suicide (by jumping into the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge). He quits his job and heads out on the open road on his Harley Davidson Sportster.

These opening scenes set the tone for the entire film, with sketchy dialog and even sketchier character motivation.

The friend (played by Martin Sheen in a performance so disjointed and dissipated it seems to be the pattern for son Charlie Sheen’s personal life) gives little motivation for his suicide other than being broke. Prior to jumping, he urges Bronson to buy his motorcycle back from his soon-to-be widow, thus explaining to viewers that Bronson knows how to ride a motorcycle, and once owned this motorcycle.

Bronson visits the widow, quits his job, and hits the road.

The rest of the film seems to draw on films like Easy Rider (1969) and the itinerant writing of Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. However, Easy Rider came out a couple months after Bronson, and the romantic idea of the drifter who lives close to the “real world” is as old as story itself.

Bronson rips around on the beach (in a scene that seems pulled from the 1971 documentary On Any Sunday), he sees a woman (played by Bonnie Bedelia) on the beach. She throws her engagement ring in the ocean and runs away. Strangely, the woman is shown alternately in a wedding dress and bare-breasted. Bronson grabs the ring and gives chase but she slips away.

But not for long. She purposefully runs him off the road with her car, and shortly thereafter he does the same to her. (This is the worst “meet cute” I’ve seen in a long time.)

The woman is apparently on the run from something, and she ends up ditching the car and riding away with Bronson.

Predictably, the couple is a mismatch. The woman, who is never named until the final scene of the film, speaks in a stilted trans-Atlantic accent that was once television shorthand for “wealthy/upper class”. Bronson adopts a raspy speaking style that sounds like he’s channeling Marlon Brando from The Wild One (1953).

In a series of vignettes, Bronson takes day jobs (such as cleaning recycled bricks), visits a friend who lives on a desert ranch, and eats and sleeps beside the road. The woman will have nothing of any of this, but she also does not want to return to her prior life.

Predictably, she slowly lets down her pretenses, the two share a night of passion, and eventually he deposits her back in the city, where she now ready to face…what?

We never know. This film has so little dialog, it’s impossible to know why she’s willing to live a couple weeks of hardship rather than face the life she’s run away from.

Like Easy Rider, the film has long stretches with little dialog and places a lot of weight on the performances. But even Easy Rider dosed out enough dialog to explain the motivations of the characters, and seemed to be about something.

Bronson leaves too much unexplained and seems to be full of about nothing in particular. How else can these two characters have ridden half of southern California and lived by the side of the road for a couple weeks, and it’s only as they part that he even bothers to ask her name?

Parks is a blank slate as Bronson. As he travels, he keeps revealing knowledge of itinerant, subsistence living, but no explanation (other than he’s a reporter, and they just know this stuff!) is suggested. Parks’ face may be familiar; he’s had minor parts in dozens of films and TV shows.

Bedelia seems to bring a little more personality to her role, struggling to communicate her character’s motivations despite the scant dialog gives her little work with.

The tone of the film (quiet, with an overcoat of counter-culture disillusionment) is unusual for TV fare, but I have to assume the weekly installments that followed were more typical of episodic television: Bronson wanders into a situation, new characters and their back-story are dumped onto the viewer, Bronson resolves the conflict, and then he rides away, leaving things better than he found them. It’s the same pattern used by westerns for decades before.

Then Came Bronson offers little to like or dislike…it’s a pretty empty of emotion. For me, the appeal of the film is in seeing the wide open California landscapes I vaguely remember from childhood, before the explosive growth that dramatically paved and modernized what was once one of the nation’s most remote states. As a motorcyclist, I also enjoyed the scenes where Bronson rides on the beach and attempts a hill climb.

A couple nits to pick: When Bronson rides on the beach, then on the highway, then rides up a dirt hill, when does he stop and change tires from slick street tires to knobby dirt tires? And when it rains all night on Bronson and the woman as they camp by the side of the road, why are they not wet, nor is the bike or the bushes, or the grass? How is that Bronson lays the bike down a couple times in the film, but it never gets scratched or dented…and when it gets submerged in a pond, he is able to take the engine apart to clean it in a few hours?  This kind of “real world” stuff is easy to overlook when a film is intentionally fantastic, but grating when a film is trying to present gritty reality.

This film is available from the Warner Archive DVD-ROM on-demand program. See WarnerArchive.com for more information.