Distiller: Alberta Distillers. 45% ABV. Age: NAS. Blend: 91% rye, 8% bourbon, 1% sherry. Price: $30.
The Dark Batch is one of the latest of an increasing number of interesting Canadian whiskies to hit the U.S. market. The same product has been marketed in Canada as Alberta Premium Dark Horse for a number of years. Canadian whisky guru Davin de Kergommeaux has a great write-up on it here.
As Davin notes, Alberta Distillers is one of the few North American producers of rye with a 100% rye-grain mashbill. American whiskey consumers have been drinking AD juice in recent years — whether they’ve known it or not — via Whistlepig and Masterson’s bottlings of AD rye. (Whistlepig has since diversified to bottling MGP rye as well while they get their own production up and running.)
The Dark Rye starts with a blend of a 6-year-old pot still rye aged in charred oak, and a 12-year-old column still rye aged in ex-bourbon barrels. That’s 91% of the total, combined with 8% of Jim Beam’s Old Grand-Dad bourbon, and — here’s the kicker — 1% sherry.
It’s a fascinating mix, full of deep and mature flavors. On the nose you’ll find hints of forest, coffee, and melted caramel. The palate brings sherry, coffee, and fruit — raspberries, I’d say. The finish is a lingering one that ends a touch thick on the tongue.
Some people have been puzzled by this one, but I enjoyed it, and think it’s a fair buy at the $30 suggested retail. For the $22 I paid for it, I was well pleased. Cheers, friends! – TM