Alberta Premium has long been that diamond-cut bottle of rye on the bottom shelf at the LCBO – a decent Canadian rye that has a loyal following, but little attention paid by the connoisseur community. Many in the know were aware that a lot of AP’s older barrels were sold south of the border to companies like WhistlePig and others.
In 2019, either due to changes in the economics of selling to the US, or in response to the success of recent limited editions of Canadian whiskies from other brands, the team at Beam-Suntory decided to release some unique and exciting 100% Canadian Ryes.
While we’ve all heard the stories of the old 20 and 30-yr bottlings from AP, many of us never got our hands on them, and there are thoughts that the rave reviews could have been due to a lack of quality Canadian competition at the time. For that reason, we didn’t know what to expect from these bottles, and frankly didn’t have incredibly high hopes. Here’s our live-review reaction to them, just in time for their release at the LCBO:
Alberta Premium 20 Limited Edition
Nose: Citrus, banana, almost yeasty notes (reminds me of some Trappist beers noses), baking spices, cinnamon, oak, orange peel. Ok colour me intrigued.
Palate: Rye spice, nutmeg, cinnamon. Nutty, banana.. this is like banana bread. Tons of oak – really shows the two decades. Citrus and dried orange peel. Candy-like in mid palate Surprisingly warm for 20yrs and only 42%!
Finish: Rye Spice, nuts, banana, citrus. Sweet candy.
Well I was expecting less and got a ton more out of this… This is a beautiful rye with depth and complexity, and consistency from start to finish. At $90, I’d buy this over this year’s edition of Lot 40 CS for the same money.
Alberta Premium Cask Strength Limited Edition
Nose: Heavy spice, warm nose, bready, nutty, cinnamon, cloves.
Palate: Wow that’s rye! Just a slap in the face of rye and baking spice, light dill, tastes like some virgin oak was used with some strong vanilla notes, hot, but not more than expected at 65%! Quite a few fruity notes… Banana, green apple. Super super dry.. almost puckers your mouth like a super dry red wine.
Finish: Long, DRY, spicy. Lasts forever.
So it’s less complex than the 20 (what do you expect given age difference), but if you want a Canadian rye, this is a quintessential take on it! The closest comparison seems obvious, so I had to pour it next to the Lot40CS 12 and 11yr editions to compare. It doesn’t quite surpass those long-sold-out bottlings, but I prefer this to the current year’s NAS edition of L40CS, and this is $25 cheaper. May not quite empty the shelves as we did with the original L40CS, but will be buying more than 1!
Overall, great to see Alberta Premium putting their highest quality barrels into the Canadian market. We hope this is the first of a series of releases from this distillery, as they know how to make a quality rye!