Graduation season for college and beyond is right around the corner. If you’ve got a favorite young adult who is about to start a new journey in life, it’s a fantastic moment to show them how much you care. Sure, you could hand them a gift card for a home decor store, but this is the ideal time to stand on ceremony and reward them with a high-quality watch, an elegant writing kit, or a fine wine or spirit, like Crown Royal Canadian Whisky. Whether they’re graduating from college, grad school, or law school, it’s one of those rare times in a young person’s life where an elegant gift really makes sense.

If you’re most familiar with Crown Royal’s core offering — Crown Royal Deluxe — you may be pleasantly surprised by how the brand’s portfolio has expanded outward and upward in recent years. Barrel selects, distinctive regional grains, unique barrel finishing, and blender’s special selections bring nuance and creativity to an already stellar whisky range. One reason it makes such an ideal gift for graduates 21 and over is that they may already be familiar with Deluxe.

If Crown Royal is already a favorite brand, then elevate your gift to the Crown Royal Aged 18 Years Extra Rare Blended, making such a gift even more appreciated. A blend of 18-year-old (and older) whiskies selected and crafted together by the brand’s master blender, this is the ultimate expression of Canadian whisky. It’s rich and inviting, with bold notes of vanilla, caramel spice, apricot, and rich oak. The spirit sips round and full and leaves long, lingering notes of nougat and baking spice as it warms the throat. Hold a glass up to the light and admire the long “legs” and the deep amber and copper tones that come from 18 years of resting inside oak barrels. The expression also earns an A for presentation, bottled in an elegantly decorated glass carafe that resembles cut crystal.

The brand has a long legacy. It was created in 1939 to celebrate a royal tour of Canada by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (that would be the current queen’s mother). The whisky is distilled, crafted, and aged in and near the Gimli distillery in a beautiful space on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. It’s an area that experiences significant temperature shifts throughout the year — cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers help accelerate the aging process, providing depth and complexity in the distillate more rapidly than in a constantly cooler climate like Scotland. A well-crafted 18-year-old whisky in these conditions requires constant care. Expert whisky makers ensure that even as the whisky ages so long, bitter oak notes and tannins don’t overtake the vanilla, caramel, cocoa, stone fruit and other elegant aromatics and flavors.

To craft, store, and blend a whisky such as the 18-year isn’t cheap, and the finished product rolls in at $150 or more. Of course, your favorite grad is worth it, but why? Starting out in life, the first thing on a young person’s mind may be decking out their new apartment or simply paying the bills. But introducing people to the better things in life when they’re young isn’t pretentious; it actually helps them navigate the professional world, appreciate why one watch costs $50 while another costs $5,000, and builds a lifelong appreciation for any hobby, passion, or lifestyle. 

The world of fine whisky is no different. Sure it’s fun to kick back with friends for a casual whisky-and-soda at a club or during the Big Game. But appreciating early on that there’s more to well-aged spirits than a weekend party is actually a life skill. Besides, you are automatically guaranteed to become their favorite grownup if your gift is a nice bottle of whisky rather than sheets and towels. 

Pro Tip: Rather than saving the bottle for some future unknown special date, let your grad know that Crown Royal 18-year is meant to be savored and sipped today, with good friends and a good vibe.

Crown Royal XO
Consider gifting Crown Royal XO, which combines the joy that is Canadian whisky with the heritage of Cognac.

If you’re seeking more affordable unique and delicious gift options, Crown Royal is still your go-to. With a range of expressions at all price points, it’s difficult to go wrong. Consider Crown Royal XO, which combines the joy that is Canadian whisky with the heritage of Cognac. Component whiskies are aged in oak, then finished in ex-Cognac casks for a few months. The result is a classic Canadian whisky with notes of vanilla, caramel, citrus, and baking spice, overlain with the nuttiness and fruitcake-like richness of Cognac. Not only is it an approachable introduction to better whiskies, it can be considered a crossover gift for the die-hard Cognac fan. Naturally, it’s presented in a beautiful bottle. 

The traditional serve for Crown Royal Aged 18 Years Extra Rare is either neat or on ice. But if you, or the young grad gift recipient, want to try it in a cocktail, consider mixed drinks that emphasize the whisky rather than the mixer. Here are a couple to get you started:

The Crown Royal Old Fashioned

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces Crown Royal Aged 18 Years Extra Rare Whisky
  • ¼ ripe apricot, cut into fourths
  • 1 Demerara (brown) sugar cube
  • 4 dashes bitters

Directions

  1. Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned or rocks glass.
  2. Dash bitters over the cube and muddle gently.
  3. Add apricot chunks and lightly muddle to release juices.
  4. Add Crown Royal 18 Year Old and a large ice cube.
  5. Stir well to chill.
  6. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry and dried apricot slice on a spear.

Whiz Bam Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Crown Royal Aged 18 Years Extra Rare Whisky
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 dashes absinthe or other herbaceous liqueur

Directions

  1. Dash absinthe into a coupe or Martini glass, swirl to coat, then discard.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine ice, whisky, vermouth, and bitters.
  3. Stir well, then strain into the cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with Maraschino cherry or dehydrated orange slice.

XO Sidecar

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ ounces Crown Royal XO
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur 
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • White cane sugar to rim

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice, shake well.
  3. Shake and strain into a sugar-rimmed glass with no ice.
  4. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

This article is sponsored by Crown Royal.