Crown Royal Fine De Luxe from 1963

Crown Royal Fine De Luxe from 1963 (40% alc./vol.)

April 5, 2013

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A complex synthesis of ginger, clove oil, hot white pepper, cedar lumber, prunes, with fresh spring lilacs and pansies and wilted tobacco. Caramel, vanilla, and cleansing citric pith. Rich & Oaky. ★★★★★

This splendid old Crown Royal was part of a collection dating back to the early 1950s. Robust yet elegant, forthright yet subtle, complex yet integrated to the point of symphony, it was sheer indulgence on the palate. The Waterloo distillery where this ambrosial delight was made is gone now, converted to condos, offices, and parking lots. However, this particular bottling remains as the apogee of the blender’s art, and nothing short of Sam Bronfman’s legacy of quality and taste.

When Seagram’s built an extensive new distillery in Gimli, Manitoba in 1969, they were responding to burgeoning worldwide demand for Canadian whisky. But by the early 1980s that demand had waned in favour of white spirits. The writing was on the wall for the future of the famed Waterloo plant. But unlike many other commercial enterprises, Seagram’s was in no hurry to turn its back on its heritage. Indeed, the company struggled to keep the Waterloo plant operating, at least to some degree, until November 1992, when finally, all operations ceased. A few months after its closure a fire quickly destroyed any lingering nostalgic hope that this noble old plant might one day reopen. Truly, this old Crown Royal from 1963 is bottled history that can never be remade. And yet, almost 50 years after its youngest component whisky was distilled this vintage bottle was so inexpensive to buy.

People often send notes to canadianwhisky.org wanting to know the value of an old bottle of whisky. That’s a good thing in one way, but not so good in another. Since I do collect old Canadian whisky, it’s nice to have first chance to purchase a rare old bottle. But often when I tell people how much, or rather how little their old whisky is actually worth, they are left disappointed, wondering if I am just low-balling them in hopes of getting a bargain.

There are two reliable sources of information for the current values of old bottles. The first is the results database of whiskyauction.com, a high-volume German website that keeps records of past sales dating back to 1997. Here, the bottles are listed alphabetically by country making it pretty easy to find what you are looking for. There is also a search function. But the prices on this site are European prices. Should a Canadian collector find a comparable bottle in Canada they will certainly pay more in comparison to these European prices.

The other source of pricing information is the ubiquitous e-Bay. Someone wanting to establish the value of an old bottle can search Canadian whisky on e-Bay to see what’s for sale and what the bidding is like. The results are often surprising, and unless you are a collector, downright disappointing. For example recent sales have included a 1937 Canadian Club which sold to the only bidder for $150. A 1952 Wiser’s Oldest in a round bottle drew only 6 bids and sold for $66.67, and a bottle of Canadian Masterpiece from 1959 listed at $95.00 drew no bidders at all. Generally speaking, Crown Royal gets more interest than most other brands. Recent sales on e-Bay include a 1965 which sold for $87.29 and one listed as 1958 which sold for $103.32. Rare bottles, that is unknown ones, often draw no interest at all.

Incidentally, sellers often date their old tax-stamped whisky incorrectly, so be careful. The date on the tax stamp (see inset above) is the date that the youngest whisky in the bottle was distilled, NOT the date it was bottled. So if the whisky has an age statement, don’t count backwards from the date on the tax stamp to figure out what year it is from. It is from the year stated on the tax stamp. As well, whisky is not considered to age in the bottle, so a 15-year-old whisky from 1952 is still 15 years old.

For Canadians buying whisky from outside the country there is also another twist. It’s called the law. It is illegal for consumers to have whisky shipped to Canada. If we pick up a single bottle on our travels, and have been out of the country long enough, there is no problem bringing it home. However if we drive across the border to pick it up and return the same day then we have to pay duty on it. This also requires producing a receipt since the duty is based on the purchase price. Duty varies from province to province. In Ontario, for example, you can end up paying double since the duty and other charges can be as high as 100%. Luckily, although the ’63 Crown Royal bottle I sourced has an American label on it, I found it right here in Canada.

Nose: A complex delight from the very first whiff of gingerbread and fresh-cut dry cedar lumber to the vague citric notes that reveal themselves on exhaling. While prunes and other black fruits sit front and centre, fresh red apples, caramel, vanilla, sweet peaches-and-cream corn, and vague hints of sweet-and-sour sauce come forward as well, only to be bolstered by clove oil and the whole gamut of rye spices. It has a dark complexity that only decades in the barrel can produce. This fills your nose with the dusky scent of leathery tobacco leaves hanging wilted in the kiln, and fresh sweet caporal cigarette rolling tobacco. And then there are lilacs and pansies, the prototypical floral aromas of well-aged rye. The nose of this 100% Waterloo whisky is a little more robust than Crown Royal XR, which it resembles, and is much creamier and fruitier than today’s De Luxe.

Palate: Rich and creamy with sweet caramel and vanilla that is kept in strict control by a base of citric pith and the vaguest hints of oak tannins. Tingling hot white pepper evolves into even hotter cinnamon, hints of ginger and in the middle, clove oil, keeping the palate bright and alive. These joust, but playfully, with vague almost musty river plants, and a cleansing, cooling white grapefruit pith. The clean crisp oak of the nose is prominent here as well, though this whisky is so complex and tightly integrated that individual notes can just pop out for an instant’s recognition before re-joining the blend. The whisky is lush and full-bodied with a vaguely milk-chocolate feel.

In addition to the luxuriant corn-derived mouthfeel, this whisky showcases the full range of typical rye spices including cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Then come the breadth of undefined fruitiness and the sweet floral notes of pansies, violets, and lilacs. But there’s even more! There’s an almost fragile brittleness found only in old Canadian rye. It is much creamier and lusher than Crown Royal De Luxe, with lots more wood and dark fruits. It is also woodier, creamier, more pithy and much spicier than Crown Royal Reserve. Tasting next to Crown XR provides a marvelous revelation as notes of nutmeg waft from the 1963 Crown Royal. Although prunes are obvious right from the start in the vintage Fine De Luxe, it is not nearly as lushly fruity as Crown Royal Cask 16. The elegance of the old timer is better reflected in today’s Crown Royal Limited Edition, although this youngster is somewhat sweeter and its fire just a tad hotter. Next to the 1963 edition, Crown Royal Black tastes more of bourbon than rye. It’s amazing how whiskies show so differently when tasted in different company.

Finish: A medium fade on citric zest, pith, and vague peppery fruitiness leaves you wanting more. It certainly does not have the staying power of the modern Crown Royals.

Empty Glass: The morning-after glass just gushes with caramel, then slowly come hints of dry lumber. Unlike Crown XR there are no balancing sour notes, not that the Crown Royal blenders ever dreamt that someone might be intent on smelling their creation the morning after, never mind talking about it!

This bottle was sold by a collector for $75.00. Old bottles of Crown Royal often sell on e-Bay in the $30 to $100 range. Considering the flavour, those are bargains indeed.

Very Highly Recommended. ★★★★★

Crown Royal Limited Edition reviewed here.
Crown Royal Black reviewed here.
Crown Royal Cask 16 reviewed here.
Crown Royal Extra Rare reviewed here.


Comments

72 Responses to “Crown Royal Fine De Luxe from 1963 (40% alc./vol.)”

  1. Daniel:

    I have a limited edition “1969 Kansas city Royals Crown Royal bottle”. I am wondering how much it is worth. If anyone with info on this bottle please e-mail me @ danielleal8383@gmail.com
    Please and thank you.

    • Davin:

      Hi Danielle,
      Unless you find a Kansas City Royals fan who wants it for some special purpose, the bottle is probably worth less than $100, and that is assuming it is full with no evaporation and that the seals are all in place. Your best bet is to have a look on e-bay and see what other commemorative bottles are selling for.

  2. miguel ramirez:

    How much will a bottle of 1969 crown royal cost me?

    • Davin:

      Best to check and see what the prices are like on e-Bay. Probably you can get one for somewhere betweeen $65 and $85. It is good whisky and worth more than that but that seems to be about the going rate.

  3. Chris:

    So I am a little confused. If the whiskey does not age once it is bottled, what is the difference between a De Luxe purchased today and the vintage De Luxe? Is it the Waterloo distillery?

    • Davin:

      Hi Chris,
      Like many things, whisky making has evolved over the years. With Crown Royal there are now five versions and Fine Deluxe has been replaced with another called Deluxe. Yes, the Waterloo distillery was a special place and the Waterloo whisky that is still left is reserved for Crown XR.

  4. Darko Vusir:

    Hi Davin,

    Just wondering. I received a bottle from my aunt. It’s Crown Royal with a 1979 tax stamp. Is there anyway to know whether it is whisky from Waterloo or Gimli?

    It was a nice haul. I got the CR, a half full bottle of CC Classic (1975) and a full bottle of CN tower whisky(1972).

    • Davin:

      Hi Darko,

      The Gimli plant came on line in 1969 producing spirit for Crown Royal. The youngest whisky in your bottle was distilled in 1979 so almost certainly made in Gimli. That does not mean that a bit of Waterloo whisky didn’t get into the blend.

      • Darko Vusir:

        Thanks for the reply Davin.

        Just wondering though, was Gimli used for the west & Waterloo for Ontario & east, or was there a mix between the two.

        • Davin:

          No, Gimli was used for Crown and Waterloo for V.O. but remember there are many whiskies of various ages in Crown so there could still be some Waterloo whisky in the Gimli vattings for Crown Royal from 1979.

          • Darko Vusir:

            I see!

            Thanks Davin!

  5. Aharon:

    I have a battle of Crown Royal Fine De Luxe 1958 25 fluid ounces
    How much it is worth?
    Aharon

    • Davin:

      I have about a dozen bottles dating back into the 1940s and have never paid more than about $75 for any of them. They just don’t go up in value all that much. You can have a look on e-Bay to see what others are paying, but it’s generally not a lot.

      • Maureen Berndt:

        Hello Davin!

        Is it possible to make contact privately? My late husband had a large collection of Crown Royal and collectibles of Crown Royal and would like to speak with you re: these things.

        Thank you,
        M Berndt

        • Davin:

          You can contact me through the contact link at the top of my website.

  6. Aharon:

    thanks Aharon

  7. Paul:

    where can one find a 1963 bottle of Crown Royal and get it either back to Canada or buy it in Canada?

    • Davin:

      e-bay, kijiji, etc.

  8. Paul:

    Thanks got one from 1963 from an old guy in Toronto off of Kijiji who had 2 bottles one from 62 and one from 63. He just happened to get them from Christmas and wasn’t a whisky drinker and had them in his closet all these years.Where did the whisky come from if the bottle is 1963 let’s say?

  9. adam:

    Ive noticed all crown royal has a gold cap….Mine is purple, can anyone tell me what this signifys? I havent been able to find one

    • Davin:

      The purple cap was discontinued more than 50 years ago. It is an old bottle. I bet it is quite tasty.
      Davin

      • Larry:

        I have a bottle that comes in a Brown box. The bottom of the box is what is called a library fold I believe. I have over 70 bottles of Crown and have never seen a brown box. Any ideas of age?

        Thanks, Larry

        • Davin:

          Sorry, No idea. This would be some marketing person’s idea for a special promotion but not really of any additional value. The Reserve comes in a brown box sometimes.

  10. Pat Cline:

    need to contact the canadian importers bottolers in St. Louis Mo. How can I do that.

    • Davin:

      Sorry, I can’t help you/ I don’t know myself. Try asking at a local liquor store. Good luck!

  11. paul mckechnie:

    I have a bottle of crown royal that has a seal with the date 1979 on it. It has never been opened. does anbody know how much it is worth?

    • Davin:

      It is worth between $50 and $75 or 100 if you can find a buyer.

  12. Alex:

    Hi there , I recently acquired a bottle (1963) in original bag and box. I have been un able to find any other currently listed on ebay or craigslist , or any other sites for that matter. Any other suggestions on locating a buyer for this ?

    Thanks

    • Davin:

      Hi Alex,

      I think e-Bay and Craig’s List have both discontinued alcohol sales. Your bottle is worth in the range of $50 to $100 depending on how badly a purchaser might want it.

  13. Florian:

    Hi ! I purchased a. 1 liter Royal Crown fine de lux bottle for 3 euros on a fleamarket. It is still sealed. Duty free BangkokTax stamp says 1977
    . How much would it be worth? Does the taste of the whisky change after so many years?
    Greetings

    • Davin:

      Hi,
      If it is still sealed and the level is good it is still drinkable. The flavour has changed over the years as the post above tells us. It is not worth a lot of money so go ahead and drink it as long as you are certain it is the real thing and has never been opened.

  14. Lonnie:

    I have a bottle of Crown with two unbroken seals one has 1957 on it. It also has a small booklet about crown attached. How do I authenticate this bottle? Thanks

    • Davin:

      It is almost certainly authentic. There are thousands of those old bottles around and they are not valuable enough for it to be worth anyone’s while to counterfeit them. I have many bottles from the 1940s that cost me an average of about $65.

  15. Lonnie:

    Thanks Davin. Its priceless to me. Its the year I was born.

  16. Bobby:

    I’m looking for a 1959 Canadian club vintage bottle does anyone know where I can find one? I recently mistakenly opened my mothers and am trying to replace it. please help!

    • Davin:

      Woo, Bobby! Time to ‘fess up to mpmma. Good news – there are still lots of them out there from the 1950s. Better news – they are really inexpensive. Under $100, often way under.

  17. Blake wilson:

    i have a 1963 FIFTH bottle of seagrams crown royal whats it worth? thanks

    • Davin:

      Between $25 and $50. Open and enjoy.

  18. christi:

    I have an original sealed and stamped 1963 bottle of crown royal in the original box that was owned by a Vegas mob king pin and handed down over the years… Just wondering the estimated value. ..

    • Davin:

      These old bottles are turning up more and more often and I am afraid the value is not very high. Probably somewhere around $50 o $60.

  19. Susy:

    Hi Davin,
    I have a sealed 1 litre bottle of Crown Royal Fine De Luxe blended Candadian Whisky a product of Joseph & Seagrams & sons. New York, NY bottled in Waterloo. No bag, no box. How can I verify the year of the bottle (I’m aware whisky does not age) and in your opinion what was is it worth? Many thanks

    • Davin:

      If there is no tax stamp then it is very difficult to tell the age. The value does not go up so it is worth the same as a new bottle, provided it is in good condition.

  20. Larry Loudenslager:

    I have a bottle of Order of Merit tax stamp 1969. It is sealed and listed aged 12 years. I also have a Crown Royal same year sealed and shows Waterloo on label. What are the worth??

    • Davin:

      Old Canadian whisky does not go up much in value and if anything values are going down since e-bay stopped selling whisky. These ones are probably worth between $40 and $70 but it will be very difficult to find a buyer. I’d suggest you open them for a special occasion.

  21. andrea:

    What about 1962 seagrams Crown Royal Fifth fine de luxe 4/5 quart

    • Davin:

      It’s about the samw whisky as the 1963. A good find!

  22. andrea:

    Thanks for the reply, have got the velvet bag also, am in the UK, any ideas on how much it might sell for?

    • Davin:

      In Canada you can find bottles such as this one fin the $30 to $70 range. There is a whisky auction in Germany that seems to get a bit more for them. http://www.whiskyauction.com I think. I have loads of these old bottles and i just open and drink them.

  23. Dennis Elkin:

    I have an old Seagram’s Crown Royal empty bottle (25 Fluid ounces), with damaged blue box with stamp marked 258-A and $6.40, purple bag marked only with “Seagram’s”, and a House of Seagram Certificate of Registration numbered C51128. Anyway to tell how old the items are and their value?
    Thank you

    • Davin:

      Sorry to have to tell you that once the bottle is opened it loses all its value. The $6.50 price tag would put it in the 1960s or so. A full bottle in pristine condition is worth about $65.00.

  24. Stephen:

    I just was given an unopened old Seagram’s Crown Royal bottle. It looks to be in great shape, with the tape still intact over the cap, and no signs of evaporation. I’ve been researching to try and find when it was most likely from, but I can’t seem to find any definitive answer. Here are the potentially identifying characteristics:
    - Front label says Waterloo (which obviously means pre-1992 when Waterloo burned down)
    - Front label says “25 fluid ounces” (true fifth so that was even earlier, since they switched to the now-common metric 750 ml around 1980, I believe)
    - Front label says “A Product of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons Limited” and also says “No. 1″ at the bottom of the label (I don’t know enough about the Seagram’s company to know the timeframe this name was used for the company)
    - Sticker over the cap that says “Liquor Control” (2 lines with “Liquor on top) on one side of the LCBO logo and “Board Ontario” (2 lines with “Board” on top) on the right side of the logo; there is NO date on the sticker; on the left side of the sticker, there is a picture of a tractor harvesting; on the right side of the sticker is a serial number QN089020
    - On the bottom of the bottle, it says “Made In Canada”; there also appears to be a small 8 to the left of the “Made In Canada”; on the right of the “Made In Canada” is an “O”, then a triangle with a small “D” inside, and then an empty square
    - The back label has the phrase “the oldest thirty years and the youngest nine years” and a small “No. 2″ at the bottom of the label; It also does NOT have any mention of “Bottled in Canada” or “Imported by Seagram” anywhere on the back label like I’ve seen on many others

    • Davin:

      All production ended at Waterloo in Nov 1992. The fire came after operations ceased and was just a coincidence. It was not the cause of the plant closing.
      The word Waterloo appeared on labels long after the plant closed.
      30 year old whisky distilled at Waterloo in 1992 would not come on the market until 2022.
      The name Joseph Seagram and Sons Limited is a trademark and I believe it is still in use.
      If there is an LCBO logo on the tax stamp then this bottle was sold and most likely filled, in Ontario.
      No one keeps track of serial numbers, nor did they ever. It’s marketing.
      Other numbers and marks on the labels are more likely used by the printer to keep track of batches of labels for quality control purposes, not whisky.
      These old bottles taste wonderful and are rarely worth more than about $65. My advice is to open it on a special occasion and enjoy it.

      • Stephen:

        Davin,

        Yes, I intend to keep it and break it out on a special occasion. It’s quite clear that there’s really not much of a premium on these older bottles, and definitely not enough to bother selling it, as opposed to keeping it as an interesting story on a special occasion. I’m just a naturally curious person that likes mysteries, so I was trying to figure out how to narrow down the age of the bottle. After my initial post, I asked my father-in-law (who is the one that gave it to me) about it. He confirmed that it came from his father. He got it when his father (my wife’s grandfather) passed away a while ago, and just never thought about it until they moved recently. So, it seems likely to me that it was from quite a while ago. My wife’s grandfather didn’t really drink, and my wife didn’t think he ever drank Crown, so it was probably a gift. I figured if the identifying pieces that I noted from the bottle were able to narrow it to a rough range, I might be able to guess which special occasion (wedding, anniversary, graduation, retirement, etc) it was. I just thought it would be neat to be able to share the story of the bottle and the likely originating occasion of my wife’s grandfather when we drank it, to be able to properly honor him, as well. He lived in NJ his while life (and did the snowbird thing down here in FL during the winters), so I don’t know what occasion he would have to be in Canada, but the lack of the date stamp that I see on other ebay auction photos, as well as the lack of inscription on the back referring to importing, did lead me to believe that it was sold in Canada.

        I think the main things that differ from other pictures I’ve seen that may help in dating it are the text on the back label (referring to the youngest being nine years, as opposed to ten years on some labels and being omitted completely in most labels), as well as it stating that the contents are 25 fluid ounces (as opposed to quart, 4/5, or 750 ml).

        • Davin:

          Just out of curiosity, what colour is the cap?

          • Stephen:

            Davin, it is the gold cap, not a purple cap.

  25. Laurie:

    I have an old 8-year-old here called McGuinness OLD CANADA from the McGuinness Distillers in Toronto. The excise ribbon on the cap is dated 1963 so it was purchased outside Canada. The label is a painting of Cornelius Krieghoff’s Bilking the Toll (1860). No proof or % or weight listed. It’s been well cared for because the fill line is up into the neck. Stored by an old lady, recently deceased, along with dozens of other collectibles in dark basement cupboards. Should I sell it or drink it?

    Laurie

    • Davin:

      Drink it, but make an occasion of it.

  26. I have a perfect bottle of the Crown Royal xr in the red bag. Complete and Perfect with seal.

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  27. Nicole Coaker:

    I have a bottle with the orginal paper seal intact 1965, is it worth anything? I am not a big drinking and have no idea what to do with it. It is a large bottle I think people were referring to it as a 40ozer

    • Davin:

      It is very nice whisky but not worth a lot. Maybe $50 to $70.

  28. Laurie McT:

    My grandfather was a glass designer at Consumers Glass in Montreal in the 30′s and 40′s. My mother has told me he was one of the designers of the Crown Royal bottle made for the Royal Visit. She has an empty bottle which has a purple cap. She claims that it is from the table from the banquet which was held at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal and that only the bottles on the table had the purple caps. I have done some research and found that there are more than 5 bottles with purple caps! Do you know how many were made and what years? Also, once the bottles were made at Consumers Glass, wouldn’t they have been shipped to the distillery and then to places during the Royal visit? Do you know where or when in the visit Crown Royal was introduced? I have a hard time believing “the story” of my grandfather’s bottle and feel he was given an empty bottle as a souvenir from the company.

    • Davin:

      This is good information. You should be proud of your connection. That was very special whisky.

      The early bottles, including those sold in the stores had purple caps. There were thousands of them produced over a period of years. By chance I tasted whisky from one of those early bottles in New York a few weeks ago. It had been at auction at Bonham’s and did not sell. They opened it for me to taste. Sadly, too much had evaporated over the years so it was not as great as others I have tasted in the past.

      The whisky was first introduced in 1939. There is no record of the king or queen ever tasting it. It was not ever poured at an official function. What happened is that Sam Bronfman used his connections to have a couple of cases put on the train that the royal couple were travelling on. This was complicated by the fact that they changed trains part way. There is no evidence that the cases placed o the trains were ever opened. However, it was a pr coup and the whisky became huge in Canada.

      • Laurie McT:

        Thank you for the information. I gather the bottle my mother has, was given to my Grandfather when the bottles were being manufactured before they were sent to the distillery.
        I found a bottle with the purple cap on Ebay for $29.00. I guess the sentimental value is far more valuable than the bottle itself.

        Thanks again.

        Laurie

  29. Roger S:

    I have a Crown Royal bottle, 1/2 gallon on a swinging pedestal with the seal stating 1964. Is this rare and what is it worth?

    • Davin:

      Not rare, no, but very good drinking. You might get $65 to $100 for it, if you can find a buyer.

  30. John:

    I have an unopened, untampered 1939 Seagrams Crown Royal “Rare Old Canadian Whiskey” …what is the bottle worth?

    • Davin:

      Hard to say. No more than $200, probably a lot less if you can even find a buyer.

  31. Mike:

    I am looking for an unopened 60′s era crown royal bottle willing to pay good money for it. Can anyone help me out

  32. Xeracy:

    I got this bottle with the purple cap and certificate of registration from my great uncle’s estate –

    http://imgur.com/a/YmyuU

    I have no idea how a third of the bottle is empty, because both paper seals are intact. even the plastic wrap that has fallen away still seems to be in one solid piece (unless he did a good job of faking this?). Someone estimated it’s age at 50+ years and I believe it could be from a navy officer’s stock due to the gum residue where that sticker would have been. Also, there is no tax stamp on the paper seals.

    I plan on opening this bottle up this weekend… :) Hopefully it will at least be tasty if it happens to be worth anything of significant value.

  33. Aaron:

    I have a 750ml of 1963 Seagrams Crown Royal FINE DE LUXE. Excellent condition. Stickers are vibrant. Bottle has never been opened. What would the value be?

    http://i1150.photobucket.com/albums/o604/jobefamily12/UPLOADS/20141012_182933.jpg

    http://i1150.photobucket.com/albums/o604/jobefamily12/UPLOADS/20141012_182909.jpg

    • Davin:

      About $65, maybe a bit more or less IF you can find a buyer.

    • Kyle:

      Hey aaron id be willing to buy your bottle for $75 let me know if interested


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