Alberta Premium Dark Horse

by davidsunlee

I know at the outset of this blog we had promised to do spirits coverage. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened nearly enough, or at all, up until now. For that I apologize and we’ll try and start posting some tasting notes on scotch and other fine spirits as time goes by.

Today’s post though is about the newly released Alberta Premium Dark Horse. I had the opportunity to attend an event at Turf Lounge with a tutored tasting headed by Canadian whiskey expert Davin de Kergommeaux, contributor to The World Atlas of Whisky and author of Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert. Not having much experience tasting whisky in general, it was invaluable to have Davin lead the tasting and hear his thoughts on the Dark Horse.

Unlike the regular Alberta Premium rye, the Dark Horse is 91% rye, about 8 to 8.5% bourbon and between 0.5 and 1.0% sherry. Although purists might argue that Dark Horse should be labelled a blended whiskey, I’m just happy for the addition of the sweet notes that bourbon and sherry bring to the table.

The Dark Horse pours a reddish brown and looks extremely enticing like bourbon. Visually I prefer this to the golden colour of the standard Alberta Premium rye.

On the nose there is loads of caramel and sweet butterscotch. There are also cloves, vanilla, and an overall floral character. Of course with a 45% ABV drink there’s going to be a lot of alcohol on the nose but it’s still not disguising the other aromas of this at all.

On the palette there is butterscoth and vanilla up front with some rye sourness, clove spicing and bitterness following very close behind. Not being too familiar with rye the sourness was quite surprising. It reminded me of a scotch I tried recently that was actually a bit salty. The Dark Horse is like this in that there is some briny quality to it. Rather than being unpleasant, the sourness is really interesting. It keeps it from being cloying.

The finish has a lot of heat but it never burns. To me the sensation is that of bitterness and a general sweetness as well. I can’t adequately place the taste but Davin described it as being like prunes.

Overall I found this to be a really tasty beverage that is great to drink neat. I though the higher ABV would keep it from being a good sipper but the extra heat isn’t unpleasant at all. This drink is also being marketing as being great for cocktails but I think I prefer it straight up.

Photo by  Zach Slootksy