Taste Test: This Tasty 23-Year-Old Apple-Flavored Whisky Might Even Win Over Purists

If you have read my recent booze coverage for Robb Report before, you might be aware that I’m generally not a fan of flavored whiskey. No judgement, of course—if that’s your thing, enjoy without shame. There are occasional exceptions to my rule, but this new 23-year-old apple-flavored Canadian whisky from Crown Royal was not one I expected to enjoy. And yet, here we are.

A $250 apple-flavored whisky aged for more than two decades—rarified, high-priced, ultra-mature whisky, meet basic flavored “whisky.” Maybe it was inevitable that these two worlds would collide given the constant demand for new expressions that brands face. Whatever the reason, here it is, so let’s break down what’s in this bottle… except that’s a bit difficult because Crown Royal isn’t very forthcoming, except to say that Golden Apple is a blend of whiskies aged for 23 years that’s been flavored with apple. Well, yeah, you can read that right on the label.

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Crown Royal, like most Canadian distilleries, produces different styles of whisky, ages them separately, and then blends them together into products like the classic Deluxe in its iconic purple bag, or the excellent Northern Harvest Rye. There have been some ultra-aged whiskies from the brand before, including a 29-year-old blend. Then there’s the Regal Apple expression, a flavored whiskey that I don’t much care for. But Golden Apple is something different, and despite my preconceived notions this whisky is actually weirdly appealing.

The nose starts off pretty much how you’d expect: apples. There’s a bit of fresh green and red apple in there, but it’s more like that candy apple flavor you get from a Jolly Rancher. That carries over onto the palate, but there’s much more going on here—a bit of subtle vanilla sweetness buttressed by notes of caramel, a bit of oak, a dash of nutmeg, and some lingering spice on the finish that goes a long way towards making this whisky a flavored expression worth trying.

Come to think of it, I’m glad Crown Royal is adding apple flavor to a 23-year-old whisky. It kind of feels like a flippant response to the veneration that whisky this old is generally given, and why not? Let’s hope Ardbeg adds hot cinnamon fireball flavor to its 25-year-old single malt next. Okay, maybe that’s going too far. But whisky is meant to be enjoyed, and if there’s an extra-aged category to flavor it’s probably Canadian because it just doesn’t command the same prices or respect as single malt scotch or bourbon. Even if you’re a flavored whiskey doubter, like I once was (and generally still am), give this bottle a try.

Score: 86

  • 100: Worth trading your first born for

  • 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet

  • 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram

  • 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market

  • 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable

  • Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this

Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.

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