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Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye Whisky

Review: Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye Whisky   (90/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
March 01,  2020)

Alberta Premium is a brand of Canadian Whisky made in Calgary, by Alberta Distillers Ltd. (owned by Beam-Suntory). The Whisky was released in the fall of 2019 along with a companion release Alberta Premium Cask Strength. Alberta Distillers own the oldest distillery in Western Canada. The distillery is famous for its rich 100 % rye grain whiskies which are bottled under the Alberta Premium label. They also sell bulk 100 % rye whisky to other brand owners.

As indicated Alberta Premium is famous for its 100% rye grain whisky, although it should be pointed out that the brand has also featured releases such as Dark Horse which were not made from 100% rye grain. In the case of this Alberta Premium offering the whisky is not only labeled as a 100 % Rye Grain Canadian Whisky, it is also bottled at cask strength (65.1% abv.).

To my knowledge this is the first cask strength offering from Alberta Distillers.

In the Bottle 4/5

In my previous reviews for the Alberta Premium Brand, I expressed disappointment in the standard bottle that ADL uses for the whisky, In fact, in one of those reviews I referred to the bottle as a relic from the 70s. I would be remiss to also not point out that one advantage to ADL’s reluctance to change the bottle design is that no money is being spent in that direction. Using the old ‘relic from the 70’s’ allows the brand to keep the price of the Alberta Premium Canadian Whisky in check.

Perhaps what has been out of fashion is now come full circle and is cool again (perhaps not).

In The Glass  9/10

The cask strength whisky shows me a nice rich copper hue in the glass. When tilted and twirled, I see a thickened crest form on the inside of the glass which very reluctantly gives up large droplets that fall as thickish) legs.

As I was examining the visual appeal of the spirit, the whisky began to show its strength throwing into the breezes rich smells of oak, toffee, maple, grain, leather burlap and almond. There is a healthy dollop of alcohol alongside these initial scents warning me that I had better take this dram seriously and keep my nose out of my glass.

I allowed the impression of alcohol to dissipate (somewhat) and began to notice growing impressions of oak spice, rich brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves, canned apricots, marzipan and of course unbridled rye grain. The nose is wonderful, everything that a great rye whisky should be.

In the Mouth  54.5/60

I sipped cautiously and was glad I did. The brute force of the whisky is enough to to knock you over if you take too much at once. But the flavour is all there. Robust rye grain and spice as well as luscious maple and honeycomb. The combination of both reminds me of both of old leather and graham wafers dipped in syrup. Baking spices in the form of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves abound as does impressions of ginger and cardamom. There is a lot going on and it is all pushed relentlessly forward by the omnipresent combination of alcohol and rye grain. Fortunately some sweetness is present with flavours of maple melding into the mixture. There is also an abundance of oak and oak sap giving the cask strength whisky structure and foundation.

Adding water or ice is obviously a prerequisite to continue sipping, which I continue to do cautiously enjoying every tiny swallow.

In The Throat:   13.5/15

The spirit is medium bodied with a long heated finish. I taste a luscious combination of maple and rye grain in the exit with lingering flavours of cinnamon, vanilla, maple and rye grain lingering after the swallow.

The Afterburn  9/10

100 % Rye Grain speaks loudly in this dram and its voice is even more forceful given the the huge cask strength thrust of alcohol that pushes it forward.  I was lucky enough to taste this dram in a blind format late last year. It was one of those spirits I flagged as requiring another look, because I just loved what I tasted. This ‘other look’ I have just given the spirit, just reinforces my initial high opinion.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

Alberta Premium Cask Strength Splash

1 1/2 oz Alberta Premium Cask Strength
Large Ice-cubes
Generous splash of Ginger-ale
Slice of Lime

Add the Ice-cubes to a rocks glass
Pour the Whisky over the ice
Add a splash of Ginger Ale
Garnish with a lime slice

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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