Whisky Connosr

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

Happy Canada Day - Part I

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

29th Jun 2012


Alberta Premium 30 Year Old
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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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!

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michaelschout commented

Had a dram of this last night to kick off quite the party. I love this stuff.

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

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.

11 years ago 0

talexander commented

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).

11 years ago 0