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Buffalo Trace Bourbon vs Crown Royal Whisky Compared (2023)

Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Buffalo Trace and Crown Royal are two notable whiskey brands. They offer various whiskey expressions– from the original spirits to flavored ones. 

But what sets them apart from each other? What are their differences?

Let’s look at this in-depth comparison between Buffalo Trace and Crown Royal and decide which is the better brand. 

Buffalo Trace & Crown Royal Whisky Face-Off 

Buffalo Trace and  Crown Royal 

To start with, Buffalo Trace is bourbon, while Crown Royal is Canadian whisky.

Buffalo Trace is one of the most prominent producers of alcohol in the world, and its lineup includes notable names as E.H. Taylor, Pappy, Blanton’s, W.L. Weller, and Elmer T. Lee.

On the other hand, Crown Royal is one of the world’s most popular and successful whisky brands– producing blended whiskies with the signature techniques of Canadian producers.

A Closer Look On Their Differences 

History & Origin

Crown Royal was first introduced in 1939 to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and King George VI to Canada. 

It was a country-only product until 1964 when it was purchased by the beverage giant Diageo. Since then, various variants and variations of this brand have been released. 

In comparison, Buffalo Trace’s first distillation process took place way back in 1775 by brothers Hancock and Willis Lee. 

The distillery was acquired by Edmund H. Taylor (in 1870) and George T. Stagg (in 1878) until 1992, when the Sazerac Company succeeded it. 

Distillation & Maturation Process 

distillery pot still

Crown Royal is distilled using a twelve-column still, which produces individual spirits comprising their blend. 

The aging process took place for varying periods using new or used charred oak barrels. 

Crown Royal expressions do not carry an age statement, but approximately, they’re aged for at least three years. 

On the one hand, Buffalo Trace is distilled using a beer still and then transferred to a Copper Alembic doubler. 

The aging process took place in new charred oak American barrels for 2 to 8 years, carrying a 2-year to 8-year age statement, depending on the expression. 

Mash Bills & Alcohol Content

In terms of mash bill, Crown Royal comprises the finest Canadian ingredients— 64% corn, 4.5% barley, and 31.5% rye, bottled at 70- to 103-proof.  

“Its exceptional flavor profile invites a new generation of whisky connoisseurs and drinkers to experience an elevated level of luxury as they celebrate milestone moments with Crown Royal.”

— Stephen Wilson, Director of Whisky Engagement for Crown Royal.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Trace, in general, is made up of 80% corn and 20% malted barley and rye, with an alcohol content of around 40% ABV. 

Here are the five mash bills used by Buffalo Trace:

  • High Rye” Whiskey Mash Bill (no corn mash)
  • Rye Whiskey Mash Bill (contains 51% rye)
  • Wheated Bourbon Mash Bill (wheat replaces rye)
  • Bourbon Mash Bill #1 (less than 10% rye)
  • Bourbon Mash Bill #2 (contains 12-15% rye)

Tasting Notes

Crown RoyalBuffalo Trace Bourbon

Palate
Creamy and smooth with sweet vanilla flavors and oak hintsLight and sweet with vanilla, toffee, and brown sugar notes
NoseRobust and rich with hints of fruit and vanilla Caramel, vanilla, honey, and orange notes
ColorRich, golden amberAmber 
Finishlong-lastingMedium-length 

Availability

Bottle of Crown Royal

Both Buffalo Trace and Crown Royal expressions are widely available. However, due to the impact of the pandemic, these whiskey brands encounter production delays.

As a result, finding some of their whiskey expressions in liquor stores or online retailers is challenging.  

Ownership & Distillery

Buffalo Trace is distilled at the distillery of the same name, located in Frankfort, Kentucky. It is owned and managed by the Sazerac Company. 

Meanwhile, Crown Royal is distilled at the distillery of the same name, located in Gimli, Manitoba. It is owned and managed by Diageo. 

Price Point & Value

Buffalo Trace BourbonCrown Royal
Average PriceApprox. $22 to $150 (MSRP)Approx. $19 to $199 (MSRP) 

Fun Facts 

Bottle of Buffalo Trace

Crown Royal 

  • Crown Royal was only sold within Canada until 1964 [1].
  • In 1968, Crown Royal’s Gimli Distillery was opened as Calvert of Canada, a Seagrams division.
  • In 1991, Crown Royal started being distilled and aged on the grounds. 

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

  • In 2013, the Buffalo Trace Distillery was designated a National Historic Landmark [2].
  • The Whisky Advocate has named Buffalo Trace as the Distillery of the Year. This is the first time an American company has won this award.
  • Buffalo Trace Distillery is considered the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the US.

FAQs

Which is smoother, Buffalo Trace or Crown Royal whisky?

Buffalo Trace is smoother compared to Crown Royal Whisky. The aromatics and spices of this spirit are best enjoyed neat, with hints of honey and spice complementing each other.

Is Crown Royal a better mixer than Buffalo Trace bourbon?

Yes. Crown Royal is a better mixer than Buffalo Trace. Crown Royal has flavored whiskeys, perfect for mixing drinks and cocktails. 

Final Say

If you’re looking for a top-shelf spirit, we conclude Crown Royal is the best choice. Buffalo Trace lands mid-shelf, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad whiskey.

We hail Crown Royal, a better brand, as the varieties are as fine as any other high-quality whiskies. Also, there are flavored ones catering to beginners and cocktail drinkers. 

More importantly, although it’s a top-shelf whisky, it’s priced affordably compared to others of the same criteria. 

References:

  1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/crown-royal-world-whisky-of-the-year-1.3328260
  2. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/buffalo-trace-distillery-announces-its-designation-as-a-national-historic-landmark-216003561.html 

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