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Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

Average score from 7 reviews and 7 ratings 89

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

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Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

This is a three way H2H with AP25 and standard NAS Alberta Premium (2 unicorns and a workhorse). I received this sample from @paddockjudge 4-5 years ago. I opened it to help prepare for my first taste of Handy Rye at an epic tasting held by @talexander. There were about 20 cc left in the sample bottle (I think it was gassed).

This expression, in a Glencairn, is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting. I nosed all the whiskies before tasting them, going from oldest to youngest.

Nose: 22/25

Caramel, vanilla. Hint of pickle juice that transitions to some sort of raw green vegetable (cut cucumber or lettuce). Baking spices. There’s a warmth. Inviting nose.

Taste: 22.5/25

Sweet. A little thin. Lots of vanilla, some caramel. A little ethanol spiciness. Pepper in the development. With time in the glass it grows in intensity and richness

Finish: 21.5/25

Medium length Some pepper. Very astringent.

Balance: 22/25

Nice balance between Nose and palate. Not too bold.

Score: Neat - 88/100

Comparing the three:


The standard AP had the strongest but least complex nose. The 25 was more floral and rounded, but a little soft. The 30 was the most inviting, complex nose


The 25 was a bit washed out and thin. The standard was bold but a little sweet and unidimentional, and the 30 had bold flavour and some breadth.

Interestingly, water did not have a significant effect on any of them. The NAS gets a little sweeter.

I always preferred the 30 to the 25, and tonight is no exception. This used to be my favourite Rye, before I discovered the joys of Lot 40 CS.

I’m very grateful to @paddockjudge, who has been very generous both with samples of AP 25 and 30, but who gifted me a bottle of AP30 a while back. It will be a special occasion indeed when I open that.

@Nozinan, I am so very glad that you actually enjoy a Canadian whisky.... at 40% abv. AP 30 is all front end, a sprinter, not a stayer. The nose and entry blows me a way! There's a lot of oak influence, and why shouldn't there be after 30 years in a barrel! You've convinced me to have a sip from my dwindling stocks.

CHEERS!! tumbler_glass


This whisky passed me by as it did so many others...but thankfully with the help of @paddockjudge traded my way around to get a bottle, and a sample was procided to me as wel by @paddockjudge , for which I was very grateful. As far as I know, this is the only 30 year old rye bottling - if anyone knows of others do let me know.

Nose: Surprisingly more wood driven than the 25 year old. 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. 92%

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. 92%

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. 90%

Intrigue: 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. 95%

Weighting the nose 25%, the palate 35%, the finish 20%, and intrigue 20%, the overall score is 93

This is my favourite whisky. Twenty-five years of aging in a harsh prairie climate yielded a delicate, complex, and delicious Canadian masterpiece. Only Fifty-two hundred bottles were made available, but for a very good reason. The 'younger' version was merely the first of two rare releases from this iconic prairie distillery. What followed was the topic of intense discussion.

The barrels were re-gauged and allowed to further mature into a heartier version, the sturdy 30 year-old. This version, with eighty-four hundred bottles, separated the kids from the cowboys. The younger twenty-five year-old iteration was crafted in the candy shop while this thirty year-old masterwork was built in the wood shop.

A product of cowboy country and priced accordingly. Affordable at $50 and incredible at 30 years.

Angels had their share while this whisky slept for thirty years, but not a drop more afterwards. Cowboys kept the rest for themselves.

There are many who claim they prefer AP25 to AP30, and that's fine with me. I just sit back and smile while sipping both, one in each hand while thinking about angels and cowboys.

I have owned more than one bottle of Alberta Premium 30 yo since it first came out and I am a fan of it, but I have to say that this is a whisky aficionado's whisky. Average drinkers to whom I have offered AP30 yo usually give it a "meh" response. It is usually too subtle and mild for them.


Alberta Premium 30 Year Old is 100% rye mash whisky distilled at Alberta Distillers Limited, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The reviewed bottle has been open about ten months and is half full

Nose: fragrant, rosewater, vanilla, moderately strong intensity now, more so than when the bottle was first opened. The spiciness of rye is present, but somewhat subdued and in the background. Very nice

Palate: when first opened this palate was understated, delicate, refined, and quietly beautiful. Ten months of open bottle has made this much more throaty and robust. I liked the refined and understated version from the first week, and I like this more oxidised version even better. The rye flavours are especially accentuated in the more oxidised version. There is some sourness here and a bit of bitterness from the wood

Finish: not a very long finish when first opened, more so now at ten months opened bottle. There is now a nice addition of some sweetness at the end to what is mostly a rather dry whisky, but bitterness is unfortunately a bit too much and is distracting

Balance: I was surprised when tasting this bottle of Alberta Premium 30 yo today, because the flavours had shifted greatly since my last sample of it several months ago. I would have rated Alberta Premium 30 yo 90/100 when first opened due to its very beautiful yet very delicate flavours. Now it has stronger but less balanced flavours. Even though this will rate for me 87 now, I would often like it better now than before, when I am in the mood for some bolder flavours. When the bottle was new I liked and admired its delicacy, but almost no one else I shared it with was much impreassed with it, because of its understated quality. There is something to be said for having different options with the same whisky

When freshly opened, this whisky would have been dynamite bottled at, say, 58% ABV. Even 50% ABV would be a vast improvement, however, I suspect that the bitterness in the oxidised version would have been greatly accentuated

The Canadian distilleries could immediately very greatly improve their product lines merely by bottling some of their products at 55% ABV

@Wills, I think that any whisk(e)y from any country of origin or style that has overdone and leaning-toward-bitter oak at the beginning of its open bottle cycle, will have that bitterness accentuated by more oxidation, probably because the increased oxidation will increase sourness, which I think is synergistic with increased perception of the bitterness.

Industial production techniques are very different in Canada than in the USA. Alberta Premium 30 yo is from 100% rye mash. But even 100% rye mash Canadian rye is much different than a US straight rye whiskey, which typically contains only 51-55% rye in the mash. A very large segment of the final vatted product of any Alberta Premium or Alberta Springs Rye is probably distilled at much higher ABV than would ever be used, or be legal, in the USA. Most of the barrels used for whisky aging in Canada are used barrels, except recently with Forty Creek Distillery. Used barrels cut down the influence of the wood, while high proof distillation cuts down the influence of the grains. This is the Canadian way of making "smooth" whisky. So 30 years' aging of a Canadian rye can still be delicate to the point of fragility. @Wills, try to sample some of this whisky for yourself and see what I mean here. A good year's batch of four year old new-wood-aged Old Overholt distilled at probably about 75% ABV will knock you on your bottom compared to this 30 year old Alberta Premium Rye. But the Alberta Premium 30 year old whisky is still quite enjoyable.

@Wills, high DISTILLATION ABV, ie distilled with almost all alcohol in the mix. There is very little water fraction in the distillate at high ABV, thus, when it is cut down with water dilution, the flavours from the water fraction are very dilute. The US limits of proof for bourbons and ryes pertain to proof/ABV at distillation (80% ABV maximum), proof going into the barrel (62.5% ABV maximium), and upon bottling(40% ABV minimum, for domestic sales; apparently it can be more dilute for sales abroad). There is no US limit to ABV after maturation. Contrast that to Scottish grain whiskies which are routinely distilled above 180 proof/90% ABV. The %ABV of grain neutral spirits is 95%, for reference. The Canadian distilleries rarely reveal much detail about what they are doing, but distillation of some major portions of the vattings for the whiskies generally contain distillate which was distilled at ABV above what would ever occur in the US for rye whiskey.


Some time ago, I wrote a very short review of Alberta Premium (one of the first that I wrote here), and only scored it a 75. If I wrote it now, it would probably be in the high-80s, low-90s. But here I have a chance to write a proper review of another Alberta offering, one I poured for my office this afternoon to celebrate our upcoming Canada Day.

Alberta Distillery was founded in 1946 in Calgary - with great water and far-reaching prairies, it was the perfect place to make 100% rye whisky. In fact, it is one of the few distilleries in Canada that makes 100% rye (most of the others are mixtures of corn, rye and barley - despite the usual label of "rye" that all Canadian whisky shares). Since 1987 it has been owned by Jim Beam.

The 30 Year Old is a very limited bottling - right now there only 2 bottles in Ontario, both in the Brantford LCBO (if you wanted to race out there and get one for Canada Day!) Aged in charred oak casks for 26 years, then decanted and casked again for another 4 years, only 700 cases were released. It is the oldest rye whisky in the world, and certainly one of the rarest.

In the glass, a light coppery colour (being a Canadian whisky, I've no doubt it has been coloured and chill filtered). On the nose, zingy rye, caramel, oak, dry hay, and cooked apples. Even at only 40%, water brings out more caramel and improves the nose. Very nice mix of rye and sweetness.

In the mouth there is lots of oaky caramel - sweet and delicious! Some banana notes in the back. The rough rye character is there as well, which nicely balances it out. Slightly oily mouthfeel which is improved by a little water.

The finish is very dry, as befits the rye, and a little rougher than you would expect. Not as smooth as it should be. A lovely whisky with a lot of character, but it doesn't quite reach the level of the Canadian Club 20 Year Old - and there is even something about the standard Alberta Premium that is missing here. Still, it is a nice way to kick off a weekend where I will be sampling a few Canadian whiskies!

I am not under the impression that there is ANY other distillery in Canada that makes 100% rye mash whisky, are you? When I see WhistlePig Rye, Jefferson's 10 yo Rye, or any other pseudo-US Canadian-produced 100% rye mash whisky, I just assume it was distilled at Alberta Distillers Limited, in Calgary, Alberta. Do you or anyone else know of another Canadian distillery that distills 100% rye?

I would score Alberta Premium 30 yo better than you would, but it is an awful shame that it is so anemic at 40% abv. I think it would be amped up a lot at 55% abv, but getting Canadian distilleries to release products at that strength mostly lies for future lobbying. The standard Alberta Premium has not had the opportunity to acquire some musty old oak influence which is observable in the finish of the 30 yo.

I agree that at a higher ABV is could really be a kicker, and I would likely score it higher. But part of the general national style of Canadian whisky is "smoothness", which a higher ABV would eliminate. Our industry is slow to change...

I would need to refer back to my copy of Canadian Whisky: A Portable Guide to research what other distilleries make 100% rye whisky, but I loaned it to my father...but I think there are one or two more (but they would be out west).


So how does one start with such a hyped-up whisky?

Aged in charred oak casks, then decanted and recasked for four years, the rye has become as delicate as a flower. The oak is ever present but never over powering. For whiskies in general and doubly so for Canadien Whiskies, this is incredibly well-balanced with absolutely none of the cheap candied sweetness that most have.

As I nose this, the soft rye notes take me to the Albertian Prairie. The freshness is like a summer day. I can smell the oak ever so softly with a hint of wild flowers nearby.

The body is light with a smooth entrance. The palete is smooth rye, floral, and oak with a medium to long finish with notes of toffee and dark chocolate. An occasional whiff of lemon bar as it leaves the mouth.

Really, a lovely way to end the day after a long road trip.

i agree with everything. I'm having a dram right now.


I've had some time adjusting to this, and now here it is, my official review. I'm drinking it out of a Glencairn Canadian Whisky Glass with a single ice cube, for those that want to know.

Nose: rich, spicy, with dark chocolate, cherries, butterscotch. Such an intense nose, one of the most expressive Canadians I've had.

Taste: almost bourbony off the bat. Rich, full, and smooth. Becomes very earthy mid-palate, with a dank, musty flavour like an old cellar. This is the only part of this whisky that doesn't always sit right with me. But it is tempered by the addition of water or ice. Remains a thick, heavy whisky; even at 80 proof it can withstand some water.

Finish: the earthy flavour persists and melds with dry oak taste. The finish is long and unobtrusive. It lingers but doesn't draw attention to itself.

Balance: brilliant nose and palate entry but the whisky seems close to collapsing under its own considerable weight. The funky middle flavours are almost assuredly a characteristic of its extreme age. Needs some massaging to get the most out of it.

Overall, this is everything I would expect and hope a 30 year old pure rye whisky to be. In head-to-head comparisons it stands out very distinctly. Bears little resemblance to the standard Alberta Premium. Tastes almost like a fine old brandy compared to Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve. At this price point, you might want to grab a few bottles of this. It only gets better as you become better acquainted with it.


After nearly a month of anxious waiting and checking the LCBO website everyday, I finally have a bottle of Alberta Premium 30 year old. In typical Alberta Premium style the bottle is far from presumptuous, in fact, it's the same bottle as the regular 5 year old blend. What's inside of the bottle though is indeed very special.

Nose: Very similar to the 5 year old blend albeit more complex. There are strong floral notes, like orange blossoms and then fresh fleshy plums. Rye notes slowly come out. When the glass was warmed in my hand for about five minutes, the nose opened up with notes of sweet grains.

Palate: Sweet vanilla and caramel are very prevalent at first. It is very sweet but then there is a subtle amount of spice that creeps up on your tongue and balances out the sweetness. There is a lot of rye flavour that is so common amongst Canadian whiskies, but like the nose, there are floral and fruity flavours that somehow manage to be powerful yet stay in the background of the palate. There is a constant oak tinge on every flavour. Texture is medium chewy. It took a few tastings over two days to really understand the complexity of the palate, and it just gets more complex as more flavours are discovered all the time.

Finish: Extraordinarily smooth. The spices grow over the finish and it really becomes quite pleasant. It's not an overwhelmingly long finish and once the remnants of the minimal spice die down there is a lingering oak note on the palate.

Overall: What a blend! It has beautiful rye flavours because it is one of the few 100% Canadian rye whiskies. There is a perfect blend of spice and sweetness. I wasn't sure what I was expecting from this whisky, but in my mind it is exactly a more sophisticated version of the regular Alberta Premium and is quite perfect in almost all ways. Sometimes the flavours seem a little muted to me, but in my mind part of the intrinsic nature of whisky is that it can never be absolutely perfect to everyone.

I should probably talk about the value of this whisky. At the LCBO in Ontario the Alberta Premium 30 year old costs $50. Even if this whisky was half as good this would still be great value. I say thank you Alberta Distillers.

I compared this tonight with Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve. Reason I compared them is that they are both top-tier Canadian whiskies and I wanted to see just how different they were. It's amazing what you can discover about a whisky by comparing them! Confederation Oak tasted pretty much as I expected, crisp and clean with lots of fresh wood flavour, while the 30 year old tasted like a very old brandy by comparison. I had not expected it to taste so fruity! It was also a lot smoother and richer than the Forty Creek. If I had to pick one bottle it would be a tough call.

Hey Michael, may I suggest trying it with an ice cube? I know it is unthinkable for some, to water down 80-proof whisky, but in this case I think it is justified. It is such a dense, heavy spirit, and an ice cube really helps break it apart and allow more flavour to get out of the glass.

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