Alberta Premium is known in Canada for their high rye content. In fact, the "stock" Alberta Premium is made from 100% rye. Dark Horse was available in the United States under the name "Dark Batch" for awhile, though I'm unsure if it still is. Dark Horse is a unique whisky. While some whiskies (and rums) are aged in ex-sherry casks for added fruity sweetness, Dark Horse has sherry added direclty into the mix. Why would Alberta Premium do this? Why to save money, of course ! What do you think happens when a single malt scotch is aged in ex-sherry casks? The sherry that had infused the wood is "re-released" into the whisky. So it's just 99% rye and 1 % sherry? Well, not exactly. According to canadianwhisky.org, Dark Horse is a "mingling of 12-year-old rye whisky and 6-year-old small pot rye, Dark Horse has an 8% dollop of well-aged corn whisky added to flesh out the body. The whisky is aged in heavily charred American white oak barrels, and is bottled at 45% alc/vol." Dark Horse also contains 0.5%-1.0% sherry wine by volume. Rumour has it that the 8% corn whiskey is in fact Old Grand-Dad's Bourbon.
- Nose (undiluted): fruity, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, raisins, rye, herbal notes
- Palate (undiluted): medium to light-bodied, a very bourbon-like arrival of vanilla and toffee, developing to brown sugar, maple, peppery rye, dark fruits (dates? dark cherries?) I would have liked it to be a bit "thicker" in the body.
- Finish: medium-short finish, rye spiciness, developing to an almost Dr. Pepper/Cherry-Coke flavour (in a pleasant way)
Adding water did NOT improve this whisky at all. In fact, with water most of the subtlety was lost and Dark Horse simply tasted like watered-down rye. I do NOT recommend drinking this with water. I found it a bit thin neat and adding water made it even thinner. Others, including Dave Broom, disagree. In his book, Mr. Broom gets more cherry-type fruitiness by adding water to Dark Horse. Perhaps our palates are different, or maybe mine is simply not as developed as Mr. Broom's. Probably the latter. Dark Horse does very well neat, or perhaps in a rye and coke. I'm just guessing about the latter since I don't drink rye and coke, but Dark Horse's finish leads me to believe it would work.
I think I payed $30 CAD for my bottle of Dark Horse. It's better than any bourbon I've had at that price point and it can compete with most budget blended scotches, especially for those who don't like smoke or peat. Definitely a winner.
@OdysseusUnbound, most people on Connosr don't consider a whisky scoring 80 points as "a winner"..., more of a "good enough to drink, but I wouldn't go out and buy a bottle of it unless I were desperate, and that was the only bottle I could get"
I denounce additives at every opportunity and consider them to be the biggest short-coming in the repertoire of Canadian whisky,...BUT, if you really want sherry in your Canadian whisky, adding straight sherry does give the opportunity to avoid completely the sulphured sherry cask issue. I had a horribly sulphured bottle of Forty Creek Barrel Select a few years ago. That would never have occurred if they had used straight sherry instead of sulphured sherry casks.
If you want a simple soft drink rye whisky cocktail, try mixing it with Dr. Pepper over a lot of ice and with some sweet orange muddled in. I prefer using the Diet Dr. Pepper. Of course, the better the rye whisky you are using, the better the result. I suggest using real rye, like Lot 40 Cask Strength, not corn whisky "Canadian Rye" like CC. For best results use a rye at at least 50% ABV.
While maybe in Canada a bourbon would be called a "corn whisky", a bourbon like Old Grand-Dad would never be referred to as a "corn whisk(e)y" in the US. In the US "corn whiskey" mandates 80% minimum corn content. OGD is roughly 60% corn, 30% rye, and 10% malted barley. Even with the now-diluted-down-to-40% ABV 'standard' Old Grand-Dad you will never taste any corn in that bourbon, only rye and oak. 30% is a lot of rye content, about the same as is used in Wiser's Legacy.
All the more reason for you to plan a trip to Toronto to try all of these things...