About This Dram
A lot of people look at me strangely when I tell them that my favourite traditional Canadian style whisky is Alberta Premium. To the uninitiated, this whisky is just the cheapest thing you can buy a mickey of. But, for those of us who know our whisky, Alberta Premium is possibly the best value for money whisky on the planet.
This is well known by the whisky makers of North America. In fact, as much Alberta Premium as we sell here in Canada, a lot more is sold in secret. Alberta Distillers sell a lot of their whisky in bulk to other companies. Many of whom import it into the USA, put it in a fancy bottle and charge people hundreds of dollars for it. I’m not naming any names…
For a while, I was beginning to think that Alberta Premium has been forgotten about by their parent company Beam Suntory. Recently Canadian whisky has stood up to be noticed on the global stage, and Alberta Premium’s sister brand Canadian Club has been stealing the spotlight with their 40 and 41-year-old whiskies. Alberta Premium has been eerily quiet since this revolution – that is until now.
With little promotion or fanfare, this whisky-geek favourite released not one, but two special editions side by side. Firstly, a 20-year-old – the next in a series of older releases including a 25 and 30-year-old. I say series, but they were released with several years of separation between them, so maybe it’s happenstance. This release though, to the best of my knowledge is a first. An official bottling Cask Strength edition Alberta Premium. Strap yourself in, this is going to be a wild ride.
As a cask strength 100% rye whisky, one might be tempted to compare this to the highly acclaimed Lot 40 cask strength editions. And in truth, they are somewhat similar in flavour. However, as is the same with their standard editions, while the aromas share many of the same words (like baking spices, caramel, apricot, vanilla), they are presented somewhat differently. While Lot 40 is a brute force assault of raw spice flavours with a little fruit mixed in, Alberta Premium tames and integrates these flavours into a beautifully well-structured whisky. It’s like tasting a curry that’s been simmering for 20 minutes versus that same curry six hours later.
The cask strength adds a couple of extra flavours to the mix. Speaking of curry actually, there is a little cumin and lime on the palate here. The headline of the story though is the richness and complexity created by presenting the spirit at cask strength. 65.1% doesn’t just say “I’m more alcoholic”, it says “I’m pure undiluted flavour”. In truth, I hardly even notice the burn of the high proof. This may be my time as an SMWS member showing. But it is surprisingly… smooth. A word I generally hate using, but I can’t think of a better way to describe the sensation. I’m a fan. A big fan to be honest. I hope this is just the first edition of many – but in case it’s not I’ll be stocking up.