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Issue: November 2007
Brand Coronation

by: Meridith May


Andrew MacKay, Master Blender for Crown Royal, with the new Cask No. 16

The lineage continues – long live Crown Royal!

For the first time in its history, Crown Royal—the No. 1–selling whisky in the U.S. by value—has unveiled a blend of two great traditions in its newest endeavor, Crown Royal Cask No. 16, a special, handcrafted whisky blend finished in rare cognac casks.
The Cognaçais employ only French oak for their casks, which is a vital element of this lush spirits’ taste profile, adding notes of vanilla and cinnamon. Crown Royal’s blend of opulent grain whiskies marries well with these prestigious casks.
“Crown Royal and cognac are often referred to as ‘noble spirits’ due to their distinguished history and craftsmanship,” notes Andrew MacKay, Master Blender for Crown Royal. “This blend is a perfect balance of the grain characters of whisky and the fruity oakiness found in cognac.”


Affordable Luxury
 
There’s a rare breed of consumers who are steadfastly loyal to what they buy and drink. Ami-Lynn Bakshi, Vice President, Crown Royal, refers to these devotees as “brand adorers,” citing this fidelity to Crown Royal as the mortar that built the brand.
“We are excited about the opportunity to give consumers such a new and unique ultra-premium experience with cask No. 16,” Bakshi tells THE TASTING PANEL.  “It meets consumer demand for affordable luxury and is another great addition the Crown Royal family.”
Bakshi adds, “Cask No. 16 embodies Crown Royal’s history of quality and consistency in delivering great products to our customers and consumers alike.  Making whisky that is fit for royalty is the heart of what we do at Crown Royal.  Cask 16 keeps this tradition and is unlike anything else on the market: the first Canadian whisky to bring a touch of nobility with a cognac finish.”
The liquid itself is unique, a blend of 50 different individually aged Crown Royal whiskies that form a mellow base to pick up the rich tones of cognac from French casks born from the lush Limousin forest.  Each cask is marked with the number “16” to represent its place of origin.

History in a Bottle
 
Crown Royal was created to commemorate a grand tour of Canada made by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 1939. In 1965, the brand was introduced into the U.S. and has since grown its regal portfolio to include the rare blend known as Crown Royal Special Reserve (SRP $45), which got F. Paul Pacult’s Highest Recommendation for its “gorgeous decadent bouquet” and “classic bearing, slam-bang finish,” and the limited production XR (SRP $179), a perfect whisky to sell for extraordinary occasions.
Priced at $100 (SRP) for the 750 ml., Crown Royal Cask No. 16 falls into a niche for customers who wish to imbibe in the luxury category without the expense of a special occasion–only spirit.
“Retailers and bar managers can introduce Cask No.16 as a whisky that celebrates life’s events, not just a particular milestone,” explains Bakshi. “On the rocks, with a splash of water or neat, Cask No. 16 can be enjoyed as one would a traditional whisky, cognac or single malt, but the taste experience will be fantastic.”
Cask No. 16 not only delivers against Crown Royal consumers’ needs, but also talks to drinkers with diverse taste whether its cognac, single malts or traditional whisky.  One thing we have seen is that someone who tries it, is going to buy it.”
This is one brand that knows its subjects.
 
It’s Reigning Whisky
 
“In terms of the whisky category,” Bakshi informs us, “the ultra-premium North American whisky segment has grown around 14% during the last four years.  Crown Royal continues to fuel that performance and we expect to see these strong trends continue. ” The luxury (ultra-premium) segment within the whisky category is increasing more rapidly than the economy brands—as it is in most spirits segments. Cask No. 16 is entering the market with impeccable timing and the marketing team at Crown Royal has great plans to get the word out to its strong consumer base.

 The Society of the Crown is a relationship marketing program that allows Crown Royal’s most loyal (and there are quite a few a few across the country) to receive email blasts about the new marque.

 1.7 million added-value packs for Crown Royal will include tip-in information cards on Cask No. 16.

 National consumer and trade publication print ads will draw attention to Cask No. 16.

 Educational events with Diageo’s Masters of Whisky will ensure that Cask No. 16 is “throne” into the ring!
“Cask No. 16 not only delivers against Crown Royal consumers’ needs, but the brand talks to drinkers with diverse taste—whether its cognac, single malts, or traditional whisky.”
 
Tasting Notes:
 
Nose: Butterscotch and hazelnut notes are distinctive; the second pass accentuates a sweet and spicy hint of pear.
Taste: The cognac imparts a sense of dried fruit (raisins and apricots) while the whisky’s foundation of wheat and grains  offer up melted brown sugar and cinnamon with a sign of white pepper.
Finish: A lengthy and elegant finish; the ripe, lush stone-fruit character spreads generously across the mouth and in a crescendo of warmth covers the entire palate.
 
Retail Royalty
 

The Crowned King is Daniel Rhee of Assi Super Market, the No. 1 Crown Royal retailer in Southern California

In Los Angeles’s Koreatown, Assi Super Market stands tall against the area’s smaller markets. Daniel Rhee, President of the California location (Assi has 15 stores throughout the U.S., headquartered on the East Coast) is the youngest of four brothers. The store imports products, but also manufactures and packages its own line of seasonings, dried fish and vegetables, sauces and canned goods.
Rhee Bros., Inc., is one of the world’s leading Asian food distributors, with global affiliates in Japan, China and Hong Kong. The company serves over 1,600 affiliate markets across the U.S. and even more across the world.
When it comes to spirits, Assi Market is King of Crown Royal. As the No. 1 retailer in Southern California for this portfolio of Canadian whisky, Rhee was delighted to introduce Cask No. 16 to the trade.
“The Asian market is brand loyal,” says Korean-born Rhee, 51, who has been in Southern California for the past four years. “Once the customers get used to a certain taste profile, they lock into it. Crown Royal continues to be the whisky requested by my customers. And I know that the younger generation will eventually move up to the sophistication of Crown Royal.”

A Crown for Every Occasion
 
 When Assi Super Market promotes Crown Royal, it is usually in the format of eye-catching end aisle displays. For the debut of Cask No. 16, Rhee purchased an antique wagon and placed barrels on and around it for a seasonal and symbolic exhibit.
“The cognac influence on Cask No. 16 is wonderful,” Rhee offered to THE TASTING PANEL. “This is a step up for my customers who are looking for something in-between Crown Royal, Crown Reserve and Crown XR. It’s affordable, mature in its stronger-yet-sweeter demeanor and will even be a replacement—or even a trade-up in some cases—for single malt and cognac drinkers.”
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