Alberta Premium Rye Whiskies

The start of a great Canadian rye cocktail

Mark DeWolf

The rye revolution has begun. Whisky enthusiasts, who had long passed by the “rye whisky” section, are now seeking out versions made with a large amount, and even 100 per cent, rye. By law, Canadian whisky familiarly known as rye whisky, is typically made from a blend of grains, with corn usually making up most of the mix. One brand that has long been made exclusively with rye, in the tradition of Canadian Whisky from the pre-prohibition era, is Alberta Premium.

Alberta Premium has been a mainstay on NSLC shelves for years, and a favourite choice for whisky aficionados since its debut. Now, a broader clientele is becoming familiar with this brand that has numerous times been acknowledged as Canada’s best by Jim Murray, in his Whisky Bible. Even the old-fashioned looking bottle, often admonished by critics in the past for its lack of contemporary design, is now appealing to consumers looking for an authentic rye whisky with some retro appeal.

Both Alberta Premium and its sister brand, Alberta Premium Dark Horse, embrace the spicy character afforded by the use of rye. Alberta Premium is matured for five years in barrel, giving it sweet spice, maple and butterscotch tones along with peppery rye notes and fruity flavours.

Their Dark Horse, as the name suggests, is darker, richer and more complex compared to Alberta Premium, with more vanilla, smoke and caramel tones garnered from more extensive oak aging and begins a little on the sweet side before its rye spiciness takes over. The whisky is almost all rye but has just a little corn in the mix to flesh it out.

As for the cocktails, rye-based whiskies are currently en vogue as bartenders look back to the past for inspiration and seek out Canadian whiskies with richer flavours. We asked Alberta Premium Distillers for two cocktails that are a mix of classic and contemporary flavours.

Great Canadian Rye and Ginger

  • 1 Serving
  • 1 fl oz Alberta Premium
  • 1/2 fl oz Galliano
  • Ginger beer

Directions: Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Add the Alberta Premium, Galliano and fill with ginger beer. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Rocky Mountain Old Fashioned

  • 1 1/2 fl oz Alberta Premium Dark Horse
  • 1/3 fl oz Maple Syrup
  • 1-2 dashes bitters*
  • Cinnamon stick

Directions: Place ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass; stir. Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice ball or cube. Rub the inside rim of the glass with a cinnamon stick and place in drink as a garnish.

*Use cherry bitters if available.

Occasions Recommends

  • Alberta Premium Canadian Rye Whisky, 750 ml $26.98
  • Alberta Premium Dark Horse, 750 ml $30.99

Next Week

We craft cocktails with joie de vivre using premium French spirits.

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