Alberta Top

Review: Hochstadter's Family Reserve 16 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Hochstadter+2.jpg
ABV
61.9%
Aging
16 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This whisky was released at the same time as (my revered) lock, stock, and barrel 16 year old - it is from the same cache of barrels from Alberta Distillers which Cooper Spirits acquired - a cask strength, intense rye whisky. Alberta rye at over 60% - I must try this! It costs a pretty penny, though, sadly.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Now there is a nose! Quite candied, with loads of arugula, some spinach, light medicinal overtones, candied orange, prunes, plums, loads of clove, dried blueberry, dried cherry, dusty asphalt, oak, sundried tomatoes, loads of cedar – it just gets better with time. It reminds me a bit of the heavy caroni rums with some of the spice and medicinal notes. We have some dustiness too!

The palate is very herbal, lightly medicinal, dried spices – very Alberta. It ends in a rich flourish of arugula. Lavender,  throughout – it is quite sweet, with notes of icing sugar – moreso than other Alberta whiskies I’ve tried. This whisky is so huge, and so deep! The finish is oaky, rich, and still very fruity – lots of dried fruit, berry notes, clove, icing sugar, nutmeg, sweet oak, and the slightest bracing of tannin.

It is a very different whisky than Masterson’s, when compared side by side. The masterson’s isn’t as sharp or deep, and has a lot less vibrancy (if you can believe such a thing). Unbelievably, it puts masterson’s to shame – and masterson’s is one of the best Canadian rye whiskies, which rarely gets outdone. That says something.

I still like this a tad less than the Lock, Stock, and Barrel, which I feel isn’t quite as sweet and is a touch more balanced. Compared to the Lock, Stock, and Barrel 18 – this is less oaky, and more muscular, with deeper fruity and spicy notes.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Average. Amazing whisky (some of the best), but 200 USD is a price, for sure!


Review: Lock, Stock, & Barrel 16 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

LS&B 16.jpg
ABV
53.5%
Aging
16 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This, a 3000 case release, was let loose in April 2016 - a 16 year old, 107 proof, 100% rye from the most renowned rye distiller on the planet - not something you see every day! It was double pot distilled, aged in new charred oak, and passed on to R.J. Cooper and Son (who also bring us St. Germaine elderflower liquer) who released a 13 year old 3 years ago. The press doesn't say it is from Canada but that it is“aged in cold weather” ! Ha! Terrifically presented, with a great string opener for the seal.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is terrifically spicy and fruity, with interesting and complex spice – brown cardamom, rancio – and lots of oak and caramel. Orange peel, toffee, dried apricot, cacao, nutmeg, clove, with a slightly medicinal character. Slightly creamy, blackberry, and with time – more grain notes – rye, oatmeal, soba noodles….just brilliant. It’s more open and a notch above the 13 year old (also terrific) with a lot more complexity immediately apparent on the nose.

The palate is, unsurprisingly, oaky and big, with tons of arugula but tempered by spice and dried fruit alongside caramel, custard, cumin, blackberry, blueberry, and dried peach. Incredible and developing finish full of vegetal and spicy notes, yet still holding onto some custard and creamy notes. The finish also has some amarula, spinach, clove, and canned peach. And we have our friend arugula. Wow. It’s a lot brighter and more fruity than it’s slightly more spice and grain-centric darker younger sibling, the 13 year old.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). This is my favourite Canadian whisky of all time, and in my top 2 favourite whiskies I’ve ever tasted alongside Compass Box Flaming Heart.

Value: High, but only if you like big, complex ryes as much as I do - this is the best of those that I’ve tasted. It’s an expensive bottle, so it has to be in your niche to value it as highly as I do, despite the high price (about $200 CAD).