Alberta Premium

Review: Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Alberta Premium 25.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
25 years
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This whisky, a 25 year old 100% rye whisky, is undoubtedly one of the most unique bottlings in the modern era of whisky. It was bottled in 2006, from distillate at least 25 years old at one of the foremost, if not the foremost, rye distillery in the world, Alberta Distillers. It sold in 2007 for an astounding price of 30 dollars – in hindsight almost a free giveaway, and there are stories of great competition for the bottles that were available in Ontario – preceding what now is all too common of a phenomena. There were between 5000 and 6000 bottles produced, and from time to time rumors circulate of another batch, but still no other batch has been released, nor is there any clear indication of another batch to come at this time.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A (the one and only)

  • Bottling Code: L01206263 Q208:30

  • Bottling Date: 2007

Nose: If you know the standard Alberta Premium, this is clearly that – but yet entirely different, and so much better. Much like if you smell a 12 year old and a (good) 18 year old of the same distillate, you are able to sit in wonder at what time in wood can do. Orange peel, caramel, rich wood, leather, vanilla, musty wood, and deep molasses notes as in old rums. There is some dustiness to it as well, and sugars and oak seem to come out as it sits. Yet, despite all the wood, it is surprisingly fresh. The nose grows, too – come back to it after a taste and you sense more of the dryness, more of what those years in oak do. With time, you get sitting grain – as you might find if you were to store rye in a mason jar and as the smell fills the jar pop the lid off and breath in. Oh so rich and dry….it’s one of those noses you remember.

Taste: Mouthcoating, with a wonderful balance of light vanilla, light spices, oak and wood which evolves in the mouth, and the lightest hint of berry fruitiness lifting the entire experience out. Rye is there, distinctively as well, not overcome by oak but leading the way in fact with light spices – clove, cinnamon – coming out in a flurry at the end. It’s long, and you can certainly make little sips go a long way. In little patches, you get little tastes of the arugula seen so clearly in the bold rye they use in their blends (and seen in detail in bottlings like Masterson’s, Whistlepig, of Jefferson’s).)

Finish: Strawberries, oak, vanilla, and leather. It is “smooth” in feel – I’m not talking about the undefined, over-used word to describe spirits as “smooth” but actually in the sense that it coats the mouth and seems to linger there nicely with almost a lubricating texture. The tannins are present ever so lightly to further enhance texture. The length is reasonable, but could have been enhanced had this been bottled above 40% – I can only wonder what 46% would have done to this one!

Complex, rich, and subtle – magnificent. This is a whisky that interacts with you – in almost a teasing fashion as you think the twists and turns are over to only discover more and more… the best Canadian whisky I have ever tasted.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). This is one of the best Canadian whiskies ever bottled, and is a fascinating study.

Value: Very High. How often do you see a 25 year old 100% rye whisky going for 30$, moreover one that’s widely regarded as one of the best bottlings of Canadian whisky ever? This was the best value buy I’ve ever seen, and likely will ever see.


Review: Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Alberta Premium 30.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
30 years
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This whisky was aged for 25 years before being recasked together into fewer barrels so that the level of whisky in the barrels remained higher for the final 5 years of maturation. It was bottled in 2011, selling for an astounding price of 50$. You’d be lucky to find a 30 year old Scotch or American whisky these days less than 5 times that price….The whisky, as with others in the Alberta Premium line, is made from 100% unmalted rye and this has resulted in the oldest rye bottling in memory. This stuff, even with the big age statement, is far above its lackluster little brother which shares the brand name.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A (the one and only)

  • Bottling Code: L1076AD100450841

  • Bottling Date: 2011

Nose: Surprisingly more wood driven than the 25 year old with only 5 more years - the casks they were re-casked into must have been a bit more active. Maple, old mossy oak, leather, sharp rye, molasses, candied orange peel, toffee, caramel – dark, sweet, and rich. Dry, also. Vanilla, and an array of spices.

Taste: Once again, great feel – and the weight of the oak is present here with a kick of arugula which carries the palate into the finish. The overall whisky is tinted with orange peel, and it plays interesting contrast with the caramel, oak, pine, and herbal notes of the rye. Spicy, rich, oaky – and this works very well with the rye grain behind it.

Finish: Arugula, caramel, oak, spices – clove and cinnamon – with a bit of a spicy feel to it. The tannins are quite a bit higher than the 25 year old, but they are by no means too much. There is also some rye layered beneath the rest.

Not as dry or complex as the 25 year old, and the wood has taken over a bit too much in this in that the complexity of the spirit is not as well presented as in the 25 year old. The caramel notes, though good, are pulling a bit more weight than they should. Regardless, a fascinating, complex, and wonderful offering from Alberta – and the wood is certainly shining through very well in this one. The whisky is quite full of both weight and subtlety.

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

Value: Very high. $50 for a 30 year old, 100% rye - are you kidding!


Review: Alberta Premium Dark Horse Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

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.

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