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Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition

Review: Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition Rye Whisky 94.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 12, 2011

I began to hear the whispers of a rumour about six months ago. Persons close to Alberta Distillers would casually mention, ” Alberta Premium 30 Year Old”, and then they would clam up and tell me they were speaking off the record.

Well, it’s not a rumour anymore, the Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition Rye Whisky has been released in Alberta, and it is literally flying off the shelves. (I know because I had to scramble to find a couple of bottles.) The rye whisky was produced in Calgary, Alberta by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) who is one of the few remaining producers of 100 % rye grain whisky in North America (if not the world). Distilled from carefully selected Canadian rye grain over thirty years ago, and then aged in charred white oak barrels this whisky is possibly the oldest production 100 % rye grain whisky ever produced in Canada.

If you have read my past reviews of Canadian Whisky, you know that Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Limited Edition Rye Whisky, is one of the best whiskies I have ever tasted. In fact I believe that the Alberta Premium 25-year-old is one of the purest expressions of Canadian Rye Whisky ever produced. Sadly that 25-year-old expression is long gone from the store shelves….

But happily, it’s older brother has arrived!

In the Bottle  4/5

Western Canadians are a conservative group of people, and us Albertans may be the most conservative of the entire bunch. We like our traditional ways, and as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke….”

And so we have the bottle presentation for perhaps the oldest Rye Whisky ever produced for retail in Canada where the bottle is exactly the same as the one used for the regular Alberta Premium, (a five-year old rye whisky) and exactly the same one as was previously used for the 25 Year Old Alberta Premium which was bottled 5 years ago. I have been told by my contacts at the distillery that the bottle is so iconic that to use any other bottle just wouldn’t be right.

Balderdash! The reason the bottle didn’t change is that we Albertans, along with being conservative and traditional, are cheap! We don’t spend money when we don’t have to. That old bottle is bought and paid for. It might look like a relic from the 70’s but if we use it, we don’t need to pay a dime to design a new one!

Of course, for a guy like me who loves a great bottle presentation, this decision seems very disappointing. But then again, for the whisky lover who wants to spend less than fifty bucks on a thirty year old whisky, the decision not to spend money on extra frills must seem like a Godsend!

In the Glass  9.5/10

In the glass the 30-year-old rye whisky is a light golden colour which belies its age. I gave the glass the customary tilt and slow swirl taking time to examine the oily sheen which imparted slow-moving stubborn legs.

The aroma from the glass was wonderful. Old Macintosh caramel toffee, spicy rye, and a subtle but firm scent of corn. (Okay I know you are thinking, I get the caramel toffee, that’s oak spices and vanilla accented by the sugars from the charred oak cask. Rye, now that’s so obvious that it’s hardly worth mentioning. But corn? The Arctic Wolf is off his rocker, this is a 100 % rye whisky. There is no corn in the blend!)

But it is undeniable once you notice it… corn oozing out if the glass beside the rye. It must be the influence of the American oak barrels which aged the spirit and previously held a corn-based whisky. After 30 years that corn has come out of the barrel to accent the rye grain. Irregardless of where it is coming from, that corn accent is lovely bringing the oak and the rye together in a wonderful bouquet for the nose.

Because this is a 30-year-old spirit, I allowed the glass to decant for a full ten minutes, and then I nosed it again. That Macintosh toffee has deepened into rich brown sugar with baking spices and accents of cinnamon; and the rye has turned dusty and dry like a well-ripened field of grain in the autumn. If you are a fan of rye whisky then this nose will have you reeling.

In the Mouth  57.5/60

When I took my first sip my initial reaction was … wow! I was greeted with a wonderful mellow rye accented by caramel oak syrup! I have tasted so many aged spirits where the oak turns to bitter sap and smothers the other flavours, but not here. Instead the oak has melted into the rye creating a subdued, sweet and spicy elixir that has my mouth begging for another sip. And under it all is that accent of corn holding the oak and rye together.

But there is much more; I taste butterscotch and honey, more rye which seems to build over time, a lovely caramel oak syrup, light baking spices, cinnamon, gingerbread, and ripened grain which all  make the whisky lively and flavourful in the mouth but not ever sharp and uncomfortable. Vanilla arrives on cue, and I cannot help but feel I am tasting something very special indeed!

I should point out that the longer you allow the glass to decant, the more complex and rich the flavours grow. This is a rye whisky that grows in the glass.

In the Throat  14/15

The exit is long. My tonsils are bathed in rye and oak, and my throat is greeted by wide swath of grain, sweet honey, vanilla and even cocoa. A rush of spice trails down afterwards leaving a nice satisfying burn in the back of my mouth but no uncomfortable burn in my throat. Finally, at the very end is a nice dusty dryness which seems to make my mouth beg for another sip.

The Afterburn   9.5/10

The Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition is an impressive whisky which has tasted better each time I have sampled it. The oak and the rye are firm and unrelenting, but undercurrents of corn and caramel give the whisky a subtle complexity that allows it to grow in the glass as you drink it. But here is the best part…..

The suggested retail price has been quoted to me at $49.95.  For a fully aged 30-year-old whisky, That is spectacular!

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Another Opinion

Now 30-year-old spirits are special. To that end, Davin de Kergommeaux, (certified malt maniac, whisky writer, and founder of Canadian Whisky), and I, agreed to publish our reviews of the Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition on the same day and link to each others reviews to give you, our readers, two perspectives of this spirit rather than one. To make a long story short… politics intervened, and we were unable to meet our mutual obligation to publish simultaneously. However, as Davin’s Review was posted a few weeks ago I am still able to provide you a link to his review so that you may have a second opinion. You may read Davin’s review here:

Davin’s Review of Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

13 Responses to “Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition”

  1. Reid said

    I got a great surprise this past Christmas when my dad gave me another bottle of AP 30YO, after having given me my first one for Christmas in 2011. This is, hands down, my favourite Canadian whisky and I couldn’t believe he found another bottle of it that long after it’s release… He didn’t, he had picked up the only two bottles left in the store back in ’11 with the plan to hang onto the second one for a while before surprising me because he figured it would be a special dram. Pretty cool gift! I still have some left in an already opened bottle, but that last one will be tough to crack when the time comes.

    • I was lucky enough to find some extra bottles a few days after release as well. They are tucked away on my whisky shelf, and like you I have a hard time opening a fresh bottle because once they are gone.. they are gone.

  2. Kevin said

    There are 3 bottles of this left in Ontario as of Jan 26 according to the LCBO website (2 in Windsor and one in Huntsville). This last week the last remaining bottles have got vacuumed up! I drove from Ottawa to Kingston too pick up the last 3 bottles in Eastern Ontario yesterday. How nuts is that! Fortunately no one I know is as obsessive about whiskey so I won’t have to share!!

    • I hit it lucky a couple days ago. I stopped in a small liquor store in my hometown (Ponoka) and found 3 Bottles of the 25 year old for $28.37 each. Some store where I score 4 bottles last year for the same price.

  3. Dan said

    I have a couple of the 25-yr olds in the cellar and a third, mostly empty bottle in the cupboard (five years ago I had with18 bottles, and I don’t share well). I’ve just tasted the 30 fo the first time; Alberta Premium 25-yr old has been superseded as my favourite Canadian of all time. I’m shocked at how different they taste. I don’t necessarily want refinement in a whisky, I often prefer them rough. The 25 is considerably rougher, with a real whack of rye. The 30 is much more subtle, but a parade of flavours in your mouth, and *very* refined. Simply magnificent!

    I’m off to buy another six bottles and will contemplate getting a full case while I’m driving. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I’m going to clean the shelf. We may never see its equal, and the price is only a hair above my house scotch (Aberlour 10-yr old, lovely but totally outclassed by Alberta Premium 30-yr old).

    I sure hope Jim Murray gets a taste. He re-introduced me to rye. I had turned into a single malt snob,

    Nice review!

    • It’s funny how people taste things differently.
      I find the 25 Year Old much cleaner than the 30, and (to my taste) a little nicer. But both are spectacular!!

      Cheers!

      • Dan said

        I certainly won’t complain if you serve me 25YO instead of 30. ;-)

        There’s no accounting for personal preference, in whisky or any of my other hobbies. For example, I don’t get the 5-yr old. I like it, but I don’t see how it compares to even Alberta Springs. The older Alberta Premiums are in another league IMO, but Jim Murray has them rated at the same level.

        It’s a shame there aren’t more pure Canadian Rye whiskies.

        • The Alberta Springs is another great whisky. Like you I hold it in higher esteem than the Regular Alberta Premium. You should maybe try the new Chinook Whisky. It is an absolute gem that can be found for less than 20 bucks.

  4. Piers Stronge said

    great review, and I agree, great whisky.. was comparing your review of the 25 (of which I wish I had another bottle, I have one sealed and can’t bear to crack it open), and wondered if the extra half point for “In the Bottle” was due to the 25 coming in a tube and the 30 in a box.

    I didn’t make the same mistake with the 30, and bought a couple of spares!

    Cheers

    • Hi Piers

      The extra half point is mostly to do with the tube versus the box. The tube is more durable, and it contains much more information (excerpts from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible) which I felt enhanced the ambiance of the presentation. I also judge more expensive spirits a little more rigorously than less expensive spirits so I was in a more forgiving mood towards the kitschy 70s style bottle in my review of the 25.

      I fortunately have a few bottles of the 25 year in my secret whisky stash, and thus I was able to open both bottles to compare them. Although the 30 is more complex and carries more flavours forward, I love the pure rye and oak expression of the 25. Very, very difficult to choose between them, but as much as I love this 30 Year Old, I found I loved the 25 even more. Which is why in the end it scored just slightly higher.

  5. Dave Baxter said

    Just received a call from Co-op that my 2 bottles have arrived. Can’t wait to try this :)

  6. Mike said

    In a way I’m glad they stuck with the old packaging. Why? Because I’m convinced that the only reason they would move to a more upscale bottle is if they intended on significantly raising the price, and from what I understand this hasn’t happened. I also like that they shirk the idea that a bottle needs a cork stopper in order to contain good whisky.

 
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