Many whiskies tout the fact that they’re pot-distilled, as the squat, rounded pot stills allow for greater extraction of congeners (flavor globules). Column stills are more often used (as is the case with vodkas like Absolut) for their efficiency — no cleanup between distillations required — and ability to strip congeners from the distillate. Crown Royal stops well short of stripping away flavor, using its 12 column stills to efficiently blend together corn, barley, and rye distillates with aforementioned legally unconstrained abandon.

In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth sailed to North America to travel the land. The first stop on their trip became a historical moment for Canada, as it was the first time reigning monarchs had visited the country. It was also a defining moment for a soon-to-be spirit brand. After hearing the history-making news, a Canadian distiller set out to create a whisky fit for the royal guests, and presented in a velvet bag for good measure. The whisky he presented was so well-loved by the regal visitors that it become known as Crown Royal. The couple left carrying 10 cases for their train journey across the continent.

You could say that the rules for whisky production in Canada are lax compared to those in America. Unlike American “rye whiskey,” which legally must contain at least 51 percent rye, Canadian whisky can have zero, some, or a whole lot of rye in its mash bill.

In 2016, “Whiskey Bible” author Jim Murray, bravely named Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye the best whiskey in the world, with nary a Scotch in sight in the top five. The nomination was even more astounding considering Northern Harvest — which costs less than $50 — tied with the previous year’s winner, Yamazaki’s then-$160 Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, with an all-time high score of 97.5.

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