Alberta Premium Canadian whisky is an enigma. It’s an affordable, run of the mill, 5-year-old whisky made from 100% rye grain. But it is also highly regarded and even considered to be the best Canadian whiskies, according to Jim Murray. What we do know is that Alberta Premium is a 100% rye whisky made in Canada that is readily available. Alberta Springs is another 100% rye that is aged for 10 years and made by the same distiller (Alberta Distillers). Pike Creek and Lot 40 are rye whiskies but are available in only limited quantities. So what is Alberta Premium, is it average or great?
Alberta Premium whisky is made in the standard Canadian way, via blending. The blending process consists of using a base whisky that is double distilled to about ~190 proof. The second whisky, or flavouring whisky, is single distilled to only 130 proof. Both distillates are aged in either new oak or bourbon barrels, whose contents were aged no more than four years. They are then blended together and bottled. For Alberta Premium rye, the minimum age of the whisky is 5 years, however, older whiskies may be also used to ensure that the product remains consistent. The Alberta Springs rye whisky uses the same process, but the minimum age of the whisky is 10 years.
Nose: The nose early on is dry with hints of rye. There isn't a lot going on and the alcohol is even subdued. Aside from the rye, there are some very subtle floral notes. After a minute the rye becomes more apparent and some of the sweetness starts to come out. After 3 minutes the nose doesn't change much. Unlike other Canadian whiskies, there isn’t that characteristic toffee aroma.
Palate: On the tongue, the rye is apparent and provides a good bite. A lot of the flavour happens on the back half of your tongue. There isn’t an exceptional amount of flavour in this whisky, but it does have rye characteristic and a slight sweetness that is pleasing. It is a very clean whisky. Overall the Alberta Premium is smooth with a good clean finish, with some warmth.
With a little water the nose becomes a little sweeter and the rye less pronounced. Upon tasting the whisky, it becomes very smooth but also dilutes out some of that rye bite. With the water, a little more of the oak comes out. It still tastes like rye, but because it is a very smooth whisky to start, the water only makes it smoother. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you are looking for in a whisky.
Alberta Premium Summary
Alberta Premium is the least Canadian of the Canadian whiskies. It doesn’t have the toffee-like flavours that are common in this style of whisky, nor does it have the sweetness. Using 100% rye is one of the factors. If you want to make a super smooth Manhattan, then this is probably your best choice for Canadian Whisky. Use a good vermouth and some quality bitters because Alberta Premium seems to want to share the spotlight. This is a good starting point for people to enter the world of whisky.
Price: $21.75 / 750 ml
Related Canadian Whiskies
Alberta Springs Whisky (10 Year) ($21.95 / 750 ml)