By Father John Rayls
When I ask my son about his relationship with a female, he will often respond “It’s complicated.” This is the best phrase to use when thinking about describing Alberta Rye Whisky Dark Batch.
Dark Batch, a Canadian blend, has been available in Canada under a similar name since 2013 and the US since 2015. This Canadian rye is distilled by Alberta Distillers, the number one rye producer in North America and component in the Beam-Suntory conglomerate, with over 450,000 barrels aging on site. Alberta Rye Dark Batch Whisky is made by taking a 50-50 mix of 6 year old pot-distilled, new oak barrel-aged rye and 12 year old column-distilled, used barrel-aged rye to form the bulk of the overall blend, comprising 91% of the total. Both are made from 100% rye. To this is added 8% Bourbon and 1% Sherry wine. This blend is bottled at 90 proof with no age statement (NAS).
But take it from me, it’s complicated, even more so than the convoluted recipe suggests.
This is stuff has the darkest coloring for a whisky I’ve ever seen. It’s a dark brown verging on mahogany in the clear bottle. When the sun hits the glass and liquid, the light produces dark red highlights accompanied by medium brown streaks. In the glass, it’s slightly lighter, with a medium brown body and copper coloring. The legs are reluctant, but clearly visible. The nose is light to medium and is filled with allspice, vanilla and sweet oak all on top of dried fruit.
On the palate, the sherry announces its presence immediately, despite the mere 1/100 presence. There is a creamy, silky smooth mouthfeel with the initial flavors experienced almost exclusively at the back of the mouth. It’s sweet, but not too much, with honey, oak and dried fruit plus just a hint of smoke. From there the experience quickly kicks in with cinnamon while at the back of the mouth and changes to a peppery experience at the tip of the tongue and lips.
The finish is long, but not on every sip. If you rush the experience, the finish can be by-passed and the sherry exerts an overt presence and counteracts the pepper. So, take your time and don’t miss this finish.
I have to admit Alberta Rye Whisky Dark Batch surprised me. I was just expecting a pretty mild blend with an average flavor profile. I bought the bottle, but didn’t even open it for a month or two. What I found was that the whisky is genuinely interesting, complex and enjoyable. Definitely give this a try.
You can find a bottle of this surprising Canadian Rye in the $30 to $40 range.