Review: Alberta Premium Dark Horse Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This whisky was released in 2012, an addition to the Alberta line of products. It is crafted for the “next generation” of connoisseurs looking for bolder, richer flavours. Some fuss has been made about the product because sherry was added to it (directly, rather than through a sherry cask), in a very small quantity. Legally, in Canada, it is still considered whisky if less than 1/11th by volume is not the aged whisky – so this is still whisky. The debate may continue as to whether this is different than barrels soaked with liquid sherry...Anyway, the sherry does it some good, just as the addition of the liters of sherry contained in sherry casks would. This is a mix of a 12 year old and a 6 year rye whisky, with corn whisky as well, aged in heavily charred oak barrels.

The whisky comes in at 45%...I can’t complain too much about that amidst some flightly flavoured 40% Canadian offerings.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Quite thick…I get some apples, vanilla, prunes and raisins, and some sharp rye which smells green in character. The caramel coming from the glass appears to grow as the whisky sits…there’s a decent dose of brown sugar in the nose. There’s some maple, molasses notes, coca-cola notes (distinctly), and the nose is a bit sour. In the background some rye comes through quite reminiscent of Alberta Springs.  Sherry notes heavy in caramel also come out a bit. And, there are some lovely earthy notes in the nose which I noticed in the finish at first – but are definitely present in the nose – they compliment the whole nose very well.

Taste: Apples come through again, with a vanilla bourbon note before the spices kick in nicely alongside some heavy caramel and molasses. It’s reasonably sweet as well. However, the flavour is a touch light for the alcohol, I think – and sometimes the alcohol seems to emerge a bit too much as a component as I taste. The sherry notes are definitely present, and it is interesting how much this reminds me of coca-cola – not in a bad way, though - it doesn't taste artificial.

Finish: Quite fruity, with some cinnamon and weight – I get a cognac note, much like the spiciness you find in some cognacs. There’s some vanilla, prunes, and very light oak as well. I also get a note much like apple seeds on the finish. After some time, some wonderful earthiness emerges reminding me of the rich smell of mud around a creek – it may not sound appealing but it really is in this whisky.

It’s nice and dark – caramel, dark maple syrup, cinnamon alongside a nice bit of fruitiness, particularly apple. I quite like it! Sometimes I feel the rye doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the whisky, standing on its own rather than with the rest of the whisky, but quite nice - especially at the price.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, at $32.

Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L514AD1008411:02

  • Bottling Date: 2015

A rich fruity nose with red wine poached pears dominating, but also with berry notes - raspberry and raisin - behind which there is mushroom (as you might see in a pinot noir) and apple. On the palate, it remains fruity with a balance of spice.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, at $32.