Alberta Distillers is, in my opinion, one of the most under-appreciated makers of Canadian Whisky. Known primarily for their extremely affordable but high quality 100% rye whiskies, Alberta Distillers have recently begun to push their way into the more premium market with expressions that feature bolder flavours (such as their bourbon and sherry infused Dark Horse Whisky) and some very old – especially for Canadian Whiskies – age statement drams.
Although there was a 25yr expression released several years ago, the Alberta Premium 30 Year Old is the most mature expression to date and in a world where Canadian whiskies often take pride in reaching even an 8-year maturation, this is rather remarkable. According to the tasting notes on the box, this whisky is “Canada’s oldest and rarest 100% Rye Whisky.” When this whisky was released a couple of years ago, it was available for the amazing price of about $55 per bottle, making it easy to justify grabbing a bottle out of curiosity. At that price, I wasn’t surprised that it was sold out when I rushed back to get more… fortunately my Mom and Dad support my dramming habit and they had already picked up a couple bottles which were gifted to me at my next birthday and Christmas, respectively… yeah, my parents are the best!
While my glass was filled from the second bottle, the picture shows my the third and only remaining unopened bottle. This whisky is bottled at 40% abv.
I would have expected 30 years of aging to result in a more heavily coloured spirit… Nevertheless, this is a beautiful, typical Canadian whisky – bright straw-gold. A swirl of my Glencairn produces a thin film that quickly produces skinny legs that rapidly slip down the glass.
In the Nose
I know this is a strange description but, for some reason cola bottle gummy candies comes to mind. This whisky has a very unique nose. Obviously, there is the dusty, grainy character that belongs to rye whiskies but there is something fresher and brighter about this one. A floral character is front and centre and, while I’m not enough of a flower gardener to pin it down specifically, it’s both sweet and spicy at the same. There is plenty of vanilla and, floating in the breezes are some mandarin oranges and a hint of cinnamon and maybe even a wisp of bourbon-like corn. Oak eventually makes an appearance but it’s extremely gentle for a whisky that’s spent so much time in the cask.
On the Tongue
Spicy rye, of course…. It’s absolutely delicious! There is a slight honeyed sweetness along with the flavours of cinnamon, cardamom and a hint of peppery ginger which warm the mouth. Vanilla is fairly front and centre and, eventually, oak again makes it’s appearance towards the end but the nutty, slightly bitter oak tannins linger along with some dark chocolate and black pepper in what is a fairly lengthy finish for a Canadian dram. A nice gentle warmth in the throat leads to the next sip.
Sometimes I wonder if I give older whiskies extra credit… I mean, it’s 30 years old so it must be special right?! Regardless of the age, however, this Canadian whisky is something else and I feel fortunate to have gotten my hands on a few bottles! If you like rye whisky, Alberta Premium won’t disappoint, even if it’s the 5 year expression, but this 30 year old definitely takes pure rye to another level. It’s complex for a Canadian whisky but extremely drinkable and yet another proof that our whiskies, and rye whisky in particular, can stack up against the great drams produced anywhere! (And let’s not forget, this is a 30 year whisky that retailed for about $55 per bottle!) if I am allowed one complaint, it would be that a whisky this old and this special should have been allowed to remain above 80 proof… I would have loved to see what this dram might have offered at 45% or higher!