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Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

Old and Used-To-Be-Delicate Rye

0 1287

@VictorReview by @Victor

13th Sep 2012

0

  • Nose
    23
  • Taste
    22
  • Finish
    21
  • Balance
    21
  • Overall
    87

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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

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12 comments

@Wills
Wills commented

Nice review once again @Victor. You are indeed the master of oxidation - I like your comments on the development after several month a lot. I find it very interesting that you think the oxidation of a 50% ABV version of this would become more bitter. Is this only based on your experience? Do you think this would be the same for Scotch?

30 years also sounds like a veeeery long time for a Rye. It would be for Bourbon and I guess this works similar for Canadian Rye.

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@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.

8 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

First time I am hearing about high ABV being illegal in the US. Is there a limit to the ABV for bottling in the US?

Cutting down the wood AND grain influence sounds a bit boring for me ;)

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@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.

8 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

Yes that 'bottling' was an error in my comment. I meant the distilling. For bottling the only 70%+ ABV I saw were for Bourbons like George T. Stagg and others. Nonetheless big thx for the insight @Victor!

8 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Another excellent review. Most Canadian whiskies are 40% ABV to adhere to the "smoothness" character of Canadian whisky, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Many 40% ABV whiskies are excellent, and I'm not entirely convinced that a higher ABV would make it better.

Also, I totally agree with your assessment of the 30 YO. I actually prefer the standard Alberta Premium, which is my go-to Canadian whisky (though not my favourite Canadian whisky). By the way, have you tried the Crown Royal XR LaSalle yet? I'm dying to know how that is...you can't get it in Canada yet!

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@talexander, I would be nimble indeed if I had tried here a Canadian whisky which hasn't even been released in Canada yet! Save me a sample when you get it...

For my taste, there are indeed some excellent 40% ABV whiskies,...but liking 40% ABV whiskies is usually an exercise in subtlety...sometimes I am in the mood for that, and sometimes not. Most of my favourites are very high ABV indeed, as, I believe, you know, from knowing me. Most of my favourites are 62+% ABV. 68% ABV is the best, but the only whiskeys you ever see in that range of %ABV are American whiskeys, and then only rarely.

8 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I should have mentioned that the Crown Royal XR LaSalle IS available in the US right now! But not yet in Canada. Why? Because they sell more Crown in the US than in Canada, so they took what they had and exported it before making it available to us. Shitty but that's the almighty dollar for you.

You know, I do think I agree with you on the ABV issue. While I don't know if 40% whiskies would necessarily be better with more alcohol in them, take a look at these two examples: Auchentoshan Classic vs. Valinch, or Lagavulin 12 vs. 16 - they may be the closest examples of one being a cask strength version of the other (despite the 4 year difference on the Lagavulin).

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

We do have enormous amounts of Canadian whisky for sale in these parts, sold more cheaply than in Canada, but, unfortunately not a lot of the ones I would like to be buying. Crown Royal is an exception here, and probably is the only Canadian brand here for which any of the up-scale Canadian premium whiskies are available. Of course I am still stunned that the LCBO released some 2012 George T. Stagg 3 months ago...and something about Spring 2012 Release of Eagle Rare 17?

Is Crown Royal XR LaSalle different than another version of Crown Royal XR? I have sampled Crown Royal XR, but it was not from a recently released bottle.

And, yes, I do much prefer Lagavulin 12 to Lagavulin 16, and love the Auchentoshan Valinch. Haven't had the Auchentoshan Classic, by design, but I'd bet dollars to dimes that I will much prefer the Valinch to the Classic.

8 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I was stunned too, but unfortunately I missed the chance to buy neither a Stagg nor an Eagle Rare.

The Crown Royal XR we've all had is from the Waterloo distillery, before production moved to Gimli, Manitoba (this is why the whiskies in the XR are quite old). But before the Bronfman's bought the distillery in Waterloo from Seagram's, they made their whisky in LaSalle, Quebec, a distillery that has closed down. But the LaSalle warehouses were still going, and so the new XR has whiskies from LaSalle rather than Waterloo. For a better, lengthier slice of history, and a review, you can read Davin de Kergommeaux's review of the XR LaSalle here: canadianwhisky.org/reviews/…

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

My county is still selling the non-La Salle Crown Royal XR @ 81.79 + 9%= $ 89.15 total. I imagine we may get the LaSalle version after current stocks recede. There are still 127 bottles in inventory of the earlier version CR XR here.

8 years ago 0

@Bravado
Bravado commented

There are a few hints of canadian distilleries showing some ability to deviate from the 40% rule. The new 43% Copper Pot Reserve from Forty Creek and the 45% Dark Horse from Alberta Distillers give me a bit of hope.

7 years ago 0

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