Despite its long history, Seagram’s 7 Crown Blended Whiskey actually isn’t very good. In addition to falling short on flavor, the whiskey is actually more like vodka in that the spirit is made from 75% neutral grain spirits. In short, modern-day whiskey drinkers who have become accustomed to bold, flavorful expressions won’t find a lot of flavor here.
Classification: American blended whiskey
Distillery: Four Roses
Still Type: column still
Released: ca. 1934; ongoing
Aged: Not stated
- The price is right. A bottle of 7 Crown should run less than $15 at most stores, making it one of the most affordable national brands.
- The 7 & 7 (7 Crown and 7Up) is an iconic 20th-century cocktail. Sophisticated it isn’t, but it goes down easily and it’s still a great entry point for cocktail newbies.
- 7 Crown has a storied history. One of the oldest surviving whiskey brands (it dates back to the end of Prohibition), 7 Crown was one of the top-selling whiskeys in America for decades. No history of spirits in the 20th century would be complete without mentioning it.
- It’s more vodka than whiskey. The label unashamedly states that 7 Crown is 75% “grain neutral spirits.” Such hybrids appealed to drinkers in the 1970s and ’80s, but are out of fashion today.
- Modern-day whiskey drinkers who have become accustomed to bold, flavorful expressions won’t find a lot of flavor here. Blended whiskeys were, by nature, designed to be light and “smooth.”
Color: Dull gold. Not much is known about what goes into 7 Crown, and that includes artificial color, which may or may not be present. The fact that the bottle is a dark amber would make it seem unnecessary.
Nose: Stale popcorn, roasted nuts, industrial alcohol. In other words, it smells a little bit like a dive bar. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Palate: A slight vanilla-caramel sweetness up front, almost like a cola. On the back of the tongue it dries out considerably, with notes of smoky, slightly charred bacon and beef jerky.
Finish: A little dry (the aforementioned charred-bacon flavor) and a little sweet (those cola notes). The aftertaste is a little reminiscent of the combination of snacks and beverages purchased at a gas station.
Seagram’s 7 Crown (generally known simply as Seagram’s 7) was, for a long time, one of the most popular spirits in America, selling literally hundreds of millions of bottles since its birth, shortly after Prohibition. Even today (or as of 2019, at least), it still ranks among the top 30 best-selling spirits. Despite its popularity, it flies under the radar for a lot of whiskey buffs. It’s probably best known as one of the two components in the well-known 7 & 7 cocktail, the other ingredient being 7Up.
Seagram’s 7 peaked in popularity in the late 1970s, when blended American and Canadian whiskeys dominated the American market. Blended whiskeys contain a fair amount of “grain neutral spirits,” also known as vodka; in the case of 7 Crown, it’s a whopping 75% of the blend. Brands like Seagram’s 7 were whiskey’s answer to vodka, which had become America’s most popular spirit the decade before. Whiskeys were dumbing down, trying to make themselves lighter and less flavorful. So Seagram’s 7 is fascinating for time-travel purposes, to taste firsthand what your parents or grandparents were drinking back during the Ford Administration. But in this golden age of American whiskey we’re currently enjoying, it simply can’t compete.
The fact that 7 Crown isn’t great by any empirical standard certainly doesn’t mean it’s undrinkable. It’s palatable on the rocks or in a highball, and the 7 & 7 is certainly a pleasant-enough drink, especially for newbies who aren’t yet used to the taste of alcohol; the 7Up smooths out any minimal bite the whiskey might have. But whiskeys like Seagram’s 7 gave the blended-whiskey category a bad name among bourbon and rye fans. Distillers have started to make new, bolder, more flavorful blends that are free of grain neutral spirits, most notably Beam Suntory’s Freddie Noe with his Little Book series. They’re more in tune with what a modern whiskey drinker would expect.
One thing Seagram’s 7 has going for it is the price: $20 will score you a bottle and plenty of change. But there are better bottom-shelf options, like Jim Beam White Label or Evan Williams 1783, both of which are solid bourbons for the money. In short, there’s no real reason to buy it, but if you’ve got some on hand, you’re better off whipping up a 7 & 7 than pouring it down the sink.
Seagram’s 7 Crown is thought of as a relic from decades ago, but in 2019, it sold more than 2.1 million 9-liter cases. That’s roughly 25 million 750-mL bottles.
The bottom line: Seagram’s 7 Crown is a legendary brand that has an important place in 20th-century American whiskey history. But don’t confuse “legendary” with “good.” While it’s not undrinkable and very affordable, there are plenty of better bottom-shelf choices.