Alberta Premium Dark Horse 45% alc/vol
Slate, charcoal, bourbon-like vanilla, sweet pickles, dark fruits, sweet and herbal flowers, hot pepper, sweet ginger and crispy clean oak. An extraordinary symphony of rye. ★★★★★There is no doubt about it, Canadian rye whisky is in resurgence. Whisky connoisseurs and a new generation of whisky drinkers alike are actively seeking it out. And according to the folks at Alberta Distillers, it's the super-premium Canadian whiskies that are leading the way. Among the whiskies at the head of the field is a bold, rich-tasting version of their own Alberta Premium. They call this new whisky “Alberta Premium Dark Horse.”Dark Horse builds on the stellar reputation of the 100-percent-rye-grain Alberta Premium. Alberta Distillers is one of the very few producers of 100 percent rye-grain whisky in North America, and each year it makes about 225,000 cases of Alberta Premium.That’s impressive when you consider that despite the “rye renaissance” in North America, all the distilleries in the U.S. put together sell a total of 900,000 cases of rye. Even more striking is the fact that Alberta Premium is sold in Canada only. Still, among whisky aficionados it has become one of the best known Canadian whiskies right around the world. Alberta Premium Dark Horse is also available in the US now, where it is called Alberta Rye Dark Batch.Alberta Distillers Ltd. was founded in 1946 by entrepreneurs, Max Bell and Frank McMahon. From the beginning their philosophy was strongly influenced by their western heritage and rural values. They were Prairie boys to the core. The distillery began producing Alberta Premium over 50 years ago and since then has become Canada’s largest buyer of rye grain. Most often it purchases the grain directly from farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, many of whom still deliver it themselves by truck.Alberta Premium showcases all the spicy, peppery notes of high-rye-grain whisky. And now those whisky drinkers seeking richer, more robust, and more sophisticated flavours can reach for Alberta Premium Dark Horse. It’s simply an extraordinary symphony of rye.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. Rich oak caramels and vanillas imbue Dark Horse with classic bourbon notes which complement the signature spiciness of Canadian Prairie rye grain.According to Beam Canada’s former Canadian Master Whisky Ambassador, Dan Tullio, “Dark Horse is one of the richest tasting Canadian whiskies with some of the highest barrel ageing extractives available.” Whether it’s the power of suggestion or a happy synergy with the name, the way Tullio tells it, “When tasting Dark Horse, you experience a horseshoe-shaped pattern on the tongue, with tanginess and spice on the sides and sweetness on the tip.” Honestly, once he said it, I got it.Nose: Wet cement, slate, dust, charcoal, burnt wood, something herbal, and all the glorious scents of torrefaction. A complex synthesis of rye spices with acetone, dry grain, pickles, and flowers. Rich vanilla wafts over burnt toffee with its very bourbon-like presence, before raspberries, dark fruits, SweeTarts®, dry orange peel, lilacs, and rosewater bring us back to rye. The nose is rich and full - almost oily - with overtones of marigolds, sweet pickles, blackstrap molasses and clean crispy oak. Complex, yes, and beautifully composed.Palate: Starts out strongly with vanilla, toffee, and hot pepper, followed closely by sweet ginger and pleasantly bitter grapefruit pith. This is a classic rye palate all the way. Slightly pulling oak tannins speak of age - orange zest, dried figs, and raspberries of complexity. The weighty body has the feel but not the flavour of sour black licorice. Real burnt charcoal follows every sip with a typical rye sourness in the background. Hot pepper and singeing ginger settle down in a bath of blackstrap molasses, and rich dark fruits.Finish: Long. Lingering hot spices and pepper with a side of prunes.Empty glass: Crispy oak with hints of charred firewood, stewed fruit, toffee, cotton candy, and charcoal.$32.95 at LCBO and across Canada. Very Highly recommended. ★★★★★*Thank you Portwood for the "dollop." It also includes a 0.5 to 1% "smidgen" of sherry.Alberta Premium 30 year old is reviewed here.Alberta Premium 25 year old is reviewed here.Alberta Springs 10 year old is reviewed here.