Putting out a product with a simple label can be seen in a few different ways. One way to view a simple label is to think that the brand has no identity.
Another way is that they are confused about their identity. Maybe they went big and got burned so they scaled back to be more appealing.
In the case of Black Velvet Blended Canadian Whisky, neither of the previous explanations holds true. Black Velvet certainly has a simple label. A black label with a gold logo. This simplicity should not be mistaken for a lack of identity or confusion in any way.
Black Velvet looks the way it does because of quiet confidence. Confidence in their history and confidence in their product which has been a powerhouse on the shelves for many years.
The simple black and gold label has gone from being perceived as simple to become the signature look for unassuming and unimpeachable quality and smoothness.
Sure, a brand can come out with a flashy style and catch the eye of a consumer. But will that consumer buy that flashy product a second time? They will most definitely buy Black Velvet again.
A Brief History of Black Velvet Whisky
The history of Black Velvet Whisky goes back to the early 1950s in Canada. Interestingly, when the blended Canadian whisky was first produced in 1951 it was not yet called Black Velvet. It went by the name of Black Label.
The name Black Label was not long for this world however as the distiller Jack Napier soon tasted the batch and decided on another more fitting name. That name was Black Velvet based on the smooth velvety profile of the whisky.
Black Velvet has seen continued success throughout the years as a high-quality but cost-effective whisky. Black Velvet is currently second in Canadian Whisky market share behind the much more expensive Crown Royal.
Black Velvet is still produced in Canada at the Black Velvet distillery in Alberta but it has since been acquired by Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. Heaven Hill is an American private company responsible for brands like Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky, Old Fitzgerald Bourbon, Christian Brothers Brandy, and Elijah Craig Bourbon.
Black Velvet isn’t Canadian in name only. They also make their whisky with Canadian water and primarily Canadian grains. The mix of barley, rye, and corn are combined and heated to create a mash. The mash is then distilled and placed in bourbon barrels to age.
Later down the line the whisky is blended and aged even more before being bottled. The original Black Velvet whisky is aged for at least 3 years and Black Velvet Reserve is aged for at least 8 years.
Black Velvet Whisky Prices, Variations & Sizes
Black Velvet Blended Canadian Whisky comes in four exciting varieties. The four types can be divided into non-flavored and flavored categories.
The original Black Velvet Whisky, and the most available in the wild, are the two non-flavored varieties: Black Velvet Original and Black Velvet Reserve. The main difference between the two is the number of years aged.
While the flavors of the non-flavored Black Velvet Whisky speak for themselves, the two flavored versions tip the scales to enhance the flavor.
Adding flavor brings a new sweetness to these spirits which work straight up or mixed in a cocktail. The two flavored varieties are Black Velvet Toasted Caramel and the newest member of the family Black Velvet Apple.
How much is Black Velvet Whisky?
Black Velvet Original is aged for three years and then blended. This smooth whisky is 80 Proof (40 percent alcohol by volume).
- 750 ml, From $13.99
- 75 L, From $18.99
Black Velvet Reserve is the more premium version of Black Velvet Original. Black Velvet Reserve is aged for more than double the years than the original at a whopping 8 years.
This extra time adds to the silky-smooth taste that Black Velvet is known for. Black Velvet Reserve is also 80 Proof (40 percent alcohol by volume) and is slightly higher in price.
- 750 ml, From $14.99
- 75 L, From $23.99
When making the decision to add flavored whisky to the esteemed Black Velvet collection it had to make sense. Black Velvet didn’t go crazy and added twenty different flavors to the line. They were very deliberate and restrained. The flavors had to highlight the whisky and make sense.
The flavors that made it through the system are Black Velvet Toasted Caramel and Black Velvet Apple. Black Velvet Toasted Caramel adds a toasted and sweet character to the whisky and Black Velvet Apple is crisp and tart. Both flavored varieties are 70 Proof (35 percent alcohol by volume).
- 750 ml, From $9.99
- 75 L, From $16.99
Black Velvet Whisky Alternatives and Comparisons
There’s a good chance your bar or retailer of choice carries Black Velvet Whisky. On the off chance that they don’t, there are some viable alternatives.
The first substitution that comes to mind is also the most popular in the category and that’s Crown Royal. Crown Royal is another blended Canadian whisky that is widely available but comes with a higher price tag. It is after all a whisky made for royalty.
Next up is Seagram’s VO Canadian Whisky. Seagram’s VO has a long and storied history and is a viable replacement for Black Velvet.
How to Drink Black Velvet Whisky
Even though Black Velvet is not an expensive spirit it is known for its smoothness. As such it can be enjoyed comfortably neat or on the rocks.
The most common way to drink Black Velvet is mixed with soda water, cola, or another bubbly mixed over ice. Black Velvet is also a great base for a long list of amazing cocktails.
As a high-proof alcohol Black Velvet can be stored in a cabinet or liquor cart without being refrigerated. For the best possible quality, the bottle should be kept out of direct sunlight at room temperature or below.
FAQ – Black Velvet Whisky
Is Black Velvet Whisky gluten-free?
Distilled spirits like whisky are considered to be a gluten-free product. The distillation process has been proven to remove gluten from the liquid even if there is gluten present in the original ingredients.
Black Velvet Whisky is considered safe for those with Celiac disease or a gluten allergy.
Is Black Velvet Whisky vegan?
Uncertain. Whisky is not typically made using any animal products but there is nothing official from Black Velvet that confirms this. There are times when animal products are used as part of the filtering process for liquor.
That is not expected for Black Velvet but again proceed with caution.
What do you mix with Black Velvet Whisky?
The smooth flavor of Black Velvet Whisky is the perfect addition to any whisky cocktail. Here are some standouts:
- 2 Parts Black Velvet Whisky
- 3 Parts Sweet & Sour Mix
- 1 Maraschino Cherry (for Garnish)
- 1 Slice of Lemon (for Garnish)
Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, strain into a glass filled with ice, and garnish with the cherry and lemon slices.
- 2 Parts Black Velvet Apple
- 3 Parts Ginger Ale
- Splash of Lime Juice
- 1 Lime (for Garnish)
Combine ingredients in a mule mug or tall glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with a lime slice.
- 1 Part Black Velvet Apple
- 2 Parts Black Velvet Original
- 3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
- 2 Dashes of Orange Bitters
- 1 Orange Peel (for Garnish)
Combine all liquid components in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until incorporated and chilled. Serve in a cocktail glass over ice and garnish with an orange peel.
Interesting Facts & Myths
For a brand that’s been around for many years like Black Velvet, they have gone through a few different advertising campaigns. None are as interesting as their use of their Black Velvet Ladies.
These ladies have been featured predominantly in magazine ads and have quite a few famous ladies as alumni. Cheryl Tiegs, Cybill Shepard, and Christie Brinkley are a few of the most notable.