Review: Masterson's 10 Year Old Straight Barley Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

10 yrs; Charred Virgin Casks
100% Unmalted Barley
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

If a 100% rye whisky, or, even more, a 100% wheat whisky are not that common – this, even more so, is perhaps the only of its kind – a 100% unmalted barley whisky. Malt whisky is abundant, and Irish whisky often contains a mix of malted and unmalted barley, but 100% unmalted barley is not common at all. The original spirit was distilled in the beer column still, then re-distilled in a stainless steel pot still (a “batch kettle”).

Review (2014)

  • Batch: 1

  • Bottling Code: 113225 TK-40 13-1082

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: This is quite a mix! The character is earthy and herbal with plenty of caramel. Stewed apples, oak, cinnamon, corn cob, mint, maple, vanilla, sourdough, and a bit of the spirit-like chemical note I find quite indicative of Alberta Distillery. There are earthy notes reminding me of reeds in a creek, and the spices are on the earthy side of things – caraway and fennel.

Taste: Again, herbal and earthy – it carries on from the nose. Caraway, fresh broccoli stalks, corn on the cob, spearmint, arugula – it sounds like an ecclectic group of flavours but the balance is good and, to my palate, absolutely delicious. If you’ve read a few of my ratings you’ve likely gathered that I love earthy whiskies – this one is no exception.

Finish: Caraway, anise seed, oak, cedar, caramel, brocolli, cinnamon, with lingering earthy and spicy notes. Very long and full of flavour. Wonderful.

Wow! Not an ordinary whisky and the flavours really made me think because the profile is unlike anything I’ve tasted. Outside of some peated whiskies, this is the highest degree of earthiness I’ve seen in whisky. Before my review, the most of my impressions about this whisky was through Davin De Kergommeaux in his writings on his blog and Whisky Advocate – this whisky is not available in Ontario so none of my friends had tried it. I expected something a bit like a pure pot still Irish whisky which I wouldn’t like much, and wouldn’t be too approachable – this was not the case at all for me, though it is quite a bit different in profile to anything else I’ve tasted thus far. It may well be a love-it or hate-it whisky, but, regardless – a must, I would think, for serious explorers of the breadth of whisk(e)y profiles.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Very nice whisky, but pricy, too. But, if you want a really unique whisky - try this.