I have a huge soft spot for Canadian Whiskey—it’s versatile, has great history behind it and is insanely underpriced. But, in our classic Canadian way, we only appreciate it when some non-Canadian sings its praises. Remember the run on Alberta Premium Cask Strength when it was named Whisky of the Year (by an Englishman with some seriously questionable conduct, but still). Of the same situation when it was Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye a few years earlier. Both those bottles were readily available in our liquor stores before the awards came out and suddenly we decided we loved them all along and they then flew off the shelves.
Weirdly, the same situation is playing out again with our southern neighbours deciding that they’re in love with—wait for it—Crown Royal Peach. To be honest, it’s an unlikely candidate for a unicorn bottle. For starters, it’s technically flavoured whisky—it belongs to the same category as Fireball. And it's also part of a bizarre range offered by the usually staid Crown Royal that includes the truly scary sounding Crown Royal Salted Caramel and the slightly more respectable Crown Royal Apple and Crown Royal Vanilla. And it’s been sitting on our shelves—it’s currently available in 172 BC Liquor stores—without fanfare since its release in 2019. But a recent article on Vinepair alerted me to the fact that the situation is very different south of the 49th parallel, where people seem to be losing their minds over the sweet treat. Just read:
“It flew off the shelves,” explains Joseph Mollica, chairman of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, which runs 69 liquor stores in the state. All the more remarkable considering a whopping 415,000 cases of Peach hit the U.S. in its launch year. “Subsequent allocations sold through just as fast,” Mollica says.
Across the country, stores instantly had to begin limiting how many bottles customers could buy at a time. Yet Crown Royal Peach’s rabid fans would find any way they could to thwart these rules and stock up when they had the chance, driving from store to store like Harmony Kelly-Spencer of Tampa, Fla. Or swapping outfits and masks to fool employees and get more bottles, as Raquel Barrera of Texas recently did. Or using one’s wife as a mule, as a man did at Julio’s Liquors, when the Westborough, Mass., liquor store was down to its final two bottles.
A search of Instagram shows our Yankee friends posting their Crown Royal Peach scores as if they just scored a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, or got their second vaccination in the recommended 3 weeks. If the border wasn't closed an enterprising sort could engage in some serious arbitrage.
And what of the taste? It's not that bad actually, as long as you don't reach for it thinking you're getting whisky. It tastes a bit like an overly sweet Old Fashioned made with peach bitters where the ice cubes have melted, and it's now at room temperature. So, not something you'd normally line up for, but also not the embarrassment it seems at first blush. Now that Salted Caramel version....