2016 Whisky Wind-down, 14: Getting Out

Today’s dram: Crown Royal, Limited Edition

Today’s tasting notes: This one is special. It’s a blend of extra aged whiskies, specially selected to be smooth, sweet, and a cut above the regular Crown Royal. It was only sold in Canada, and, as far as I can tell, is no longer being made. (The company has since introduced other limited bottlings under other names.)

Crown Royal has a bit of an interesting history. It was created (so the story goes) by Seagram’s owner Sam Bronfman to impress and be worthy of the whisky-loving British King George VI upon his visit to Canada in 1939. The truth is probably more that Bronfman, who rose to wealth selling whisky across the border during American Prohibition, simply knew a good marketing ploy when he saw one.

Whatever the truth, Crown Royal — good enough for the King! — has been the best-selling Canadian whisky for many years now.

I acquired a couple of bottles of the Limited Edition a few years ago on a trip to Toronto. Between the exchange rate and the lack of American taxes, I paid only slightly more for the rare pair than I would have for one bottle of the regular back home.

Thing is, I don’t really care for it straight-up. It is, to be sure, well-made whisky, but I am not its target. It is sweet — the aroma is even sweet — and ultra smooth, and I could probably drink a pint of it as easily as a pint of beer.

That isn’t what I look for in whisky, though.

So what do I do with this rare whisky that was never sold in my home country and is now no longer available anywhere?

I put it in my coffee when I’m feeling decadent.

As disrespectful as that may sound, it makes for really good coffee. Take a rich, dark coffee. Brew it strong in a French press, then add sugar, a slug of heavy whipping cream, and a couple of ounces of this. Mmm.

Today’s thoughts: I was in Toronto visiting friends. Specifically, one of The Empress of Whisky’s oldest, dearest friends and her wife.

They are wonderful people, and we have seen them often elsewhere, but this was our first trip to their home. Point of fact, it was my first trip outside the States.

I enjoy travel, but most — all, aside from Toronto — of mine has been within the bounds of my own country. To be fair, it is a big country, and I have barely scratched the surface of all the fun places to go. Yet the outer world is bigger still, with even more destinations worthy of the visit, so I suspect we shall voyage farther afield in the years ahead.

Travel is still somewhat novel for me. I grew up poorish in rural southern Georgia, and I was an adult before I began to voyage in any serious way. The Empress of Whisky is a much more experienced traveler and has friends around the globe.

I will say it is true about travel that it broadens the mind. Seeing and experiencing other places (even within one’s own country) firsthand, meeting and getting to know other cultures, other ways of life, does more to fight the spread of hatred and small-mindedness than all the bombs ever built.

Pity the people who most need this exposure are stuck at home, comfortably hating The Other from afar.

Today’s serious suggestion: Get out. It will help.

Today’s toast: To the travelers: May your passport pages runneth over.

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