Rich & Rare Canadian Whisky from Sazerac (formerly Hiram Walker) - New in summer 2011

Rich & Rare Reserve (40% alc./vol. (80 proof))

March 6, 2013


Full-flavoured and peppery with creamy maple syrup, clean oak, hints of rose petals, dark fruit, and tangy oranges. Fruity and Spicy. ★★★★

Although originally produced by the firm of Gooderham and Worts, Rich & Rare Canadian whisky became an established Hiram Walker brand, distilled in Walkerville, Ontario. During Prohibition the Walker plant was purchased by one Harry Hatch. With a partner, Hatch already owned Gooderham and Worts and the two companies were soon merged. Then in 1987, the business, by then called Hiram Walker & Sons, passed into the hands of Allied Lyons, a British firm. But that was not the end of its corporate identity changes. A few years later, in 2005, the French conglomerate, Pernod Ricard took over the company and it was not long before they divested some of the Hiram Walker brands, including the aptly-named Rich & Rare.

The Sazerac Company of New Orleans, now the owner of the brand, bottles Rich & Rare at its facility in Frankfort, Kentucky. The whisky itself continues to be distilled, matured, and blended in Canada. Recently, Sazerac launched a richer and rarer version in the U.S. calling it Rich & Rare Reserve. Again this is a whisky that has been distilled, aged, and blended in Canada then shipped to Frankfort for bottling.

Where R&R is sweet and creamy, R&R Reserve shows a lot more influence of spicy rye grain and oak barrels. Its sculptured bottle and gold crown cap are reminiscent of Crown Royal, Canada’s best selling whisky, but beyond the packaging there is little resemblance to Crown Royal. R&R Reserve is a fine whisky in its own right and definitely takes the already buttery mouth-filling qualities of R&R up a notch.

Nose: Maple syrup, creamy caramel and rich dark fruits with sweet rye spices, fresh water plants, a mild oakiness and lemony rose petals.

Palate: Sweet, rich and creamy with a syrupy body. Quite peppery with hot tingling rye spices, including ginger and cinnamon sticks. Develops lots of oaky tones with some gentle tannins in the middle. Not as fruity as the nose, but elements of dark fruit remain as do oranges which complement a growing citric pithiness. Suggestions of lemony yellow roses linger throughout, although way in the background, along with a somewhat earthy maple syrup. It almost feels as if there are three distinct layers – sweet fragrant butterscotch, clean oak, and robust white pepper. Measured against the standard of Rich & Rare this is bigger, fruitier, hotter, oakier, more complex and definitely not as sweet.

Finish: Longish and hot, with just hints of flowers.

Empty Glass: Hints of dry wood – and little else.

$13.00 at liquor stores in the U.S.

Highly recommended ★★★★

Rich & Rare is reviewed here.


82 Responses to “Rich & Rare Reserve (40% alc./vol. (80 proof))”

  1. John:

    Is this eventually coming to Ontario?

    • Davin:

      Not sure John. I picked it up in the U.S. – it’s just been released down there.

  2. Levi:

    I’m drinking it right now(first taste test).. Been drinking R&R for 5 years… This distinct full bodied blend is an exceptional and quite surprising upgrade from the standard R&R- which is wonderful in it’s own right. Reserve R&R rivals other very expensive labels and I will be purchasing it from now on.. The spicy, tingly, long-lasting flavor with lasting depth definitely let’s you enjoy great whiskey that is affordable at the same time. Well Done!!!

  3. Please assist in identifying the holding years from barrel to delivery of blends.

    I find the Reserve R & R to definitely rival the much more expensive CR!

    Very smooth and no carryover taste from the night before!

    • Davin:

      As far as I know, R&R Reserve is made from whiskies that have aged for different periods of time. That’s why you can taste some bright youthful notes and some more mature complex ones in the same whisky.

  4. Excellent blended whisky. Prefer it over the regular R&R. It is better priced than 40 Creek and Crown and yet taste just as good. Just bought a case tonight.

  5. M.W. Derek:

    This Canadian whiskey is pleasantly blended. I just bought it for the first time and upon gazing at the beautiful bottling I opened the golden cap to be smacked in the face with a very pleasant caramel syrupy smell with hints of flowers and rye. I tasted a hint of spice and wood flavors while drinking it a smooth caramel sweet and thick syrupy flavor was left over and very enjoyable. I definitively prefer this over the regular Rich and Rare bottle. I also think this is a top contender for crown royal and other expensive whiskeys.

  6. Tobin:

    I cannot find reserve where i live in Nebraska. I love r&r and would like to try the reserve, but cannot find it. Does anyone know where to find it?

    • Davin:

      If you can’t find it locally it might be available on line.

  7. BrianL:

    Best value out there. I have become a big fan of Canadian Whisky, and this one will become a staple.

  8. Daniel:

    R&R Reserve is delightful. Just recently tried it & I’ve stocked my shed with it. Living in the south, I was baptized in bourbon, but there is no way to ingnore the smooth Canadian whiskys. R&R Reserve doesn’t give the ferocious headached that 40 Creek gives me & my friends, so this is one of our favorites. In order: Crown, Classic 12 & R&R Reserve. Well done to the makers of this fine whisky & thank god for Canada.

    • doug:

      You should try Wisers and Gibsons. Very smooth Canadian rye’s. Way better than Crown Royal

  9. [...] connoisseurs consider the whisky well worth the price and even a bargain as seen here, here, and here. Anecdotal survey tastings by Crown Royal drinkers generally result in R&R Reserve being [...]

  10. KC:

    Having enjoyed many a canadian whiskey, I must say that this is a fine whiskey at a bargain price. This has quickly become my favorite, surpassing Crown and is half the cost!

  11. We just began selling it in Colorado. Look for it! This is a wonderfull whisky, and very suprising shelf.

  12. claire:

    Gooderham’s R & R canadian whiskey a blend C517499
    Can you assist me in identifying year and value….tax stamp unbroken, labels not perfect. Thank you

    • Davin:

      Hi Claire,
      Canadian whisky does not appreciate much in value so even if it is old, you are likely better off to open your bottle and enjoy it than to try to sell it. The year of distillation should be on the tax strip. If it is not there then there is really no way to say exactly how old it is. Sorry.

  13. candy allen:

    is this available in ohio?

  14. Stephen:

    where can I get it in Prince Edward Island?

    • Davin:

      Unfortunately, I think it is still limited to the US.

  15. Matt:

    I was looking for a decent inexpensive whiskey and I found a bottle of R & R Reserve for $10.99. I decided to try it out fearing it would taste like crap because of the price. Instead, the whiskey is very good having a sweet aftertaste and I usually dont like to shoot whiskey but this is wonderful! Later Crown hello R & R!

  16. Emma Hudson:

    Crown Royal Blended Canadian Whisky No’d 0164. Joseph E Seagram. No’d label: 1971 D5110014

    I have a miniature bottle of the above – Could you please let me know if is has a monetary value.

    • Davin:

      Generally speaking, old Canadian whisky does not go up much in value. Unless you can find someone who collects minis I doubt you would get more than a couple of dollars for it. Sorry for the bad news.

  17. Clinton Deiters:

    This is the best tasting Whiskey for the money on the planet, as close to Crown as you can get. I was wondering how long does it take to get the rebates, I have sent in 3 envelopes so far and ready to send another, havent gotten one back yet its been well over a month?

    • Davin:

      Sorry, I have no idea. I write about whisky, but I do not make or sell it. Glad you agree that this is good whisky.

  18. Alan Adams:

    Why plastic bottle I would rather pay a dollar more for glass makes you whiskey look cheep

    • Davin:

      I have no idea why they use plastic but I could guess: Plastic is much lighter than glass so people who spend their days moving bottles on and off of store shelves have less chance of injuring their backs or of dropping a case and breaking it. It also probably saves packaging and shipping costs and keeps prices lower. Plastic is also environmentally friendly and believe it or not some of these big companies really do think about that kind of thing. These are guesses, take your pick.

  19. dan:

    Drank canadian mist for years, never bought another bottle after i drank r&r! Need to try the reserve.

  20. Gerry:

    I am looking for used whiskey barrels to re-purpose. I have interest in potting plants to patio furniture. I am in N.E. Washington State. It is not cost effective to haul out of Kentucky or Carolinas. I am hoping I could find Canadian bbls in BC or Alberta. Any help?

    • Davin:

      Sorry. I write about whisky but I don’t make or sell it so I am not able to help you locate barrels.

  21. Mike:

    Work in liquor store in Louisville,KY & have been asking Crown drinkers to try the R&R Reserve.They are all coming back saying they prefer the R&R Reserve,even without the huge price difference.I prefer Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey,but I did buy a bottle of this stuff& I have to admit that it is pretty damn good.

    • Davin:

      Hi, Yeah, I don’t stick with one brand when there are so many good ones out there. Lots of great Canadian whiskies and lots of great bourbons too.

  22. Mike:

    Hey – I’m interested in trying some Canadians but I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to them.Can you recommend some? Thanks.

  23. Bill:

    I am not seeing this on the shelf in Oregon! I have got dozens of folks drinking R&R. I have enjoyed it over 20yrs now!!!

    • Davin:

      Sorry Bill, I am not in the loop on distribution. Perhaps try another liquor store, or maybe you’ve done that already.

  24. Walter:

    R&R is Alaskan natives favorite bottle of alcohol to drink. 99 percent of the villages here in Alaska prefer R&R to bootleg it. But really R&R taste like crap and is not a very good mixing drink

  25. wow. just got my first taste of r+r reserve. this is great stuff.

  26. Josh:

    I have been drinking crown and seven for a while but after trying R and R reserve I would never go back the price is half the cost and in my opinion a amazing substitute for crown

  27. we went from brand to brand for a log time but when we found R@R we have stayed. we really enjoy the flavor. have been drinking it for the past three years. we put out shots of R@R and Crown Royal for friends and family we found we like the R@R better Thanks R@R we will continue to be customers for years to come.

  28. Gene L Shefland:

    I have been enjoying r&r for many years. Used to only like Jack Daniels, but R&R has been better. Problem is now it is had to get in the St. Paul, Minnesota area and across the river in Wisconsin. Are you stopping distri in this area?

    • Davin:

      Hi Gene,
      I am a writer and I do not make or sell whisky so I don’t really know when distribution changes. Sorry.

  29. JWS:

    Davin, I just found this recently in Ohio. I actually didn’t buy it UNTIL I read your review of it. After reading your recommendation of this, I got a fifth, and I recently started my SECOND bottle of it!! It’s HALF the price of Crown, and tastes BETTER!! Plus, upon an unexpected trip to Tampa for a family emergency, I found out that it’s available there too!! Thanks again for your great reviews. I really like the fact that you review whiskies of ALL price ranges, as I drink on a budget. When it comes to Canadians, lower price doesn’t always equal lower quality!!

  30. Matt:

    This stuff is incredibly smooth compared to regular R&R and also crown. Take it from a Texan “skip crown and go for R&R Reserve.

    • JWS:

      Amen, Matt!! R&R Reserve is my go-to Canadian sipper. Plus, the price point is GREAT. In Ohio, it’s $11 per fifth….

  31. David Antich:

    I was in Specs (big liquor store in Houston)last week chatting with a young man (employee) telling him when I was his age it was VO or CC for those of us who wanted first class bourbon. He handed me a bottle of R&R Reserve, since it was only $10/$11 dollars I was too polite
    to put it back on the shelf! Wow what a surprise, I’m an old geezer who is now hooked on cheap booze not by necessity but by choice! Almost embarrassed!

  32. AlaskanNative907:

    This is my favorite alcohol over any other drink. I used to like r&r and monarch canadian before I bought r&r reserve. I sold a few r&r reserve to some 40+ year old people who drank for years, and they never seen r&r reserve or an r&r glass bottle, and they loved it. R&r reserve also does not give me hang over like certain liquors like jack daniel’s, vodka, and other spirits. I sure wish they made Monarch Canadian Reserve. But nothing beats r&r reserve. I get wasted and never have hang overs from any Canadian Whisky. Canadian Whisky all the way.

    • JWS:

      I have NEVER gone wrong with most Canadian whiskies that I’ve tried so far. I tried the R&R Reserve, after reading Davin’s review of it, and I haven’t had any of that ‘Royal’ whisky since!! Also tried the higher-aged CC varietals, and for me, there’s nothing less.
      Canadian Whisky is some of the best & certainly SMOOTHEST spirit that I’ve ever had.

      Yeah, that’s some GREAT whisky, eh?!

  33. Sara:

    I have never like whiskey much, ran out of my favorite liquor. Digging through my cabinet I find a bottle of R&R Reserve, completely expecting it to be just tolerable, OMG, it is my new favorite!

  34. Dawn:

    I and my husband was on vacation in MICHIGAN and we loved the R&R toasted carmel. No one sells it here back where we live. And we would like to know if we can oder it online and have it sent to us. We tried the Black Velvet does not have the flavor like R&R. Thank You

  35. KIA:

    Where can I buy it in Quebec city?

    • Davin:

      SAQ, if they carry it,

  36. Rick:

    I just sipped a few r&r and cokes again because its what my best friend and I drank when we went out on the weekends 40 years ago. It still tastes as great as at did way back then. I really thank you for the memories. I’m going to look up my friend and see if he would like to have a few on me. I hope his wife will let him escape from reality for a few hours(lol). Thank you very much again. It reminded me of the good old days and I really enjoyed remembering that. Sorry about being so maudlin. (p.s. If my friends dad is still above dirt I’m going to ask him to come along with us. Thanks again, Rick in Michigan.

  37. Jimw:

    I have been drinking R&R for decades…noticed the Reserve at a gas station while out of town and immediately bought it. Turns out it was a mistake in the order…I wish they’d make more mistkes. Can’t find it around Lansing, MI. :(

  38. Steve:

    I have an unopened, US Internal Revenue label sealed bottle of Rich & Rare. It is in a glass bottle that is square on the sides and rectangle on the ends. The side label is numbered D702437. Can you tell me the year and value of this bottle of whiskey?

    • Davin:

      I am not sure when it was bottled. These old bottles do not increase in value so it is worth about the same as a new bottle today. Sorry to disappoint you.

  39. Meshelle:

    This is my husband’s ONLY drink..wondering if this is barrel cured? I would love to purchase something with R&R on it or in it for a surprise birthday or anniversary gift. Please let me know. Thanks!

    • Davin:

      Yes, it is aged in barrels.
      Best to contact your local liquor store or check e-Bay if you’re looking for R&R memorabilia.

  40. Nate:

    Just decided to play with this a bit, at the price point, I’d recommend it! I made a standard Sazerac with it and it really pops when you sub the New Orleans standard Peychauds Bitters with something more floral like a Celery bitters. Big and sweet and pillowy with enough rye to hold up.

  41. Happened across R&R Reserve the other day in the canadian section of my liqour store in OHIO. Very very impressed, for the price it may be one of the best blends in OHIO. I keep mine under my bar and in the freezer, I’m having one now with a sip of coke chaser. Beautiful. Its my new go to whiskey.

  42. Nik adamsson:

    What a pleasant surprise. I just tried R & R. This is smooth sipping whisky. I have been a scotch drinker for 55 years. I saw a little man face down on the floor in the whisky isles yesterday. It turnout out he was tagging bottles of Rich & Rare. He said he had been marketing it for nearly 80 years and drinking it longer. I will be looking for it and R & R reserve. The price is moderate and the taste is great.

  43. Just purchased my first bottle of Rich and Rare Reserve. I have been a fan of Crown Royal for years and always liked to try different brands of Canadian Rye. R & R will find a permanent spot in my liquor cabinet. This is the real deal. Price and Taste. Sorry Crown, but I’ve got plenty of bags to keep my fishing reels in.

  44. S. Pixley:

    My father is an avid crown fan, and I followed his tastes when I started drinking whiskey. I had tried dozens of Canadians when a friend who runs a liquor store convinced me to buy R&R reserve. The price scared me because it was so low, but I was way wrong. It’s seems more dimensional and complex than whiskeys that cost double and triple its price. It has earned a permanent spot on my shelf.

  45. Dan:

    I developed my taste in Canadian whisky from my father, who was a big Seagram’s VO fan, but when I was in graduate school and couldn’t afford that I discovered R&R and have been drinking it ever since–about 30 years. My problem is that when I’m traveling around different part of the country I can rarely find it.

  46. Sherry:

    R&R is my favorite, but now that I’m gluten free I have to know if there is gluten in products. Can you tell me if it’s made of wheat, rye or barley? I can have corn, so I’m hoping its corn.

    • Davin:

      According to UDSA, there is no reliable test to tell if there is gluten in whisky. Best to discuss with your doctor or nutritionist.

    • Davin:

      You can be sure there is at least some rye in it.

  47. Zoe Brooke:

    I like it — it is smooth — it is inexpensive (which, I confess, was a criteria in selecting it in the first place) … it tastes good (very important for me) … and it happily eases me (slowly and softly) into exactly where I want to be in the first place … This is JUST what I want … R&R Whiskey makes me feel precisely how I want to feel, with just the right flavor, with just the right taste, with just the right … quiet, slow experience to experience exactly what I want to be at this point in time … It is good — slow — and smooth … it is what I wanted and asked for for this moment. Thank you for a perfect experience … it is transient nirvana.

  48. Cathy Curl:

    I changed from my other to R&R Reserve—not a fan of R&R Rare–OMG–I love it–Taste is great mixes well & no hangover no matter (not pushed the limit) LOL Thanks so much it’s great

  49. Cathy Curl:

    PS—finally found a Liq. store that carries it—will drive 45 mins to get it–thanks so much

  50. Brian DuBois Branch:

    Just happened to buy some cheap whiskey for some “Hot Toddies” and picked this R&R Reserve $12.89 with tax).

    Made one and decided to take a quick sip and to my surprise, I was blown away.

    This rivals most whiskies 5 times the price.

    Definitely keeping this one.

  51. Bob from florida:

    Across from the scotch. I was getting tired of being beat up by scotch prices. Very good product.

  52. Michelle in LA Alabama:

    I was a big fan and lover of Crown Royal until I was introduced to R&R Reserve about 3 years ago in NC. I buy R&R Reserve by the case now. No im not an alcoholic but I entertain a lot and my “Crown friends” including my own brother and mother thought it was Crown. Status thing I guess. But as they drink their cocktails I then tell them they are drinking R&R Reserve. I live in south Alabama and now when I go into the ABC Store they are out sometimes. And it really ticks me off. I guess they are selling more since I advertise it so much. I pay $24.00 per 1.75L plus our 10% sales tax verses $54 for Crown Royal.
    I was in New Orleans last week and found it for $16.99 a bottle so I bought a 2 cases hoping I would not get pulled over crossing over 2 states!! Lol
    The only thing I wish now is that they come up with a R&R Reserve Black since Crown Royal is selling CR Black and can’t keep it on the shelves in Alabama. I highly recommend R&R Reserve try it. Sorry for the long comment

    • Laura:

      hi michelle, I usually drink crown royal reserve. cleaning out my bar,i came across a tiny bottle of R&R rich and rare,the size one receives when traveling.i decided it was cocktail time,oh my…absolutely delicious.i live in new Orleans, do you remember where you purchased it when you were in nola.a toast to you,my dear, you have impeccable taste…..Sincerely,Laura

  53. Brian:

    My absolute go to! The best out there for the price. Smooth and very tasty!

  54. Jonathan:

    By itself or as a mixer, this is a great whiskey. And personal experience I found no matter the quantity, as long as drinking straight or with non-sugary mixes, there is no hangover. Keep up the good work

  55. Kevin:

    Rich and Rare Reserve is the best Canadian Whiskey out there so far as I’m concerned! The price is good and to me it tastes better than Crown Royal. I won’t buy anything else!Very smooth rich flavor.

  56. Carole Westby:

    Just wanted to let you know, I volunteer at a nursing home where one of the female residents just turned 102! Her one request was a “shot of whisky”. Being a Brandy drinker myself I was at a loss so asked her what her favorite kind was so I could bring her some ( after medical staff clearance of course!) She said, in her little teeny 102 year old voice- ” not a shot, a PINT” and giggled!!! She said she didn’t have a favorite cuz they couldn’t ever afford it! Well today I got clearance and picked her up the R&R Reserve on advice from my favorite liquor store employee- I’m off to see what she thinks and hope to give her a special treat and day!

  57. Jacob Evans:

    R&R Reserve is my favorite wisky. It’s cheap and really good. Other cheap whiskies have aweful after tastes or something that makes me cringe. R&R Reserve is amazingly smooth. I drink it straight or mixed with any flavor of unsweetened sparkling water.

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