Ride The Dark Horse

By / Wine + Drinks / November 13th, 2012 / Like

Are you a whisky aficionado who appreciates the crisp, spicy qualities of a classic Canadian rye but also goes for the richer, more robust palate typical of an American bourbon? If so get ready to saddle up on Alberta Premium Dark Horse – the new breed of Canadian whisky in the Alberta Distillers’ stable.

Launched in selected provinces this fall and slated for Canada-wide distribution in 2013, Alberta Premium Dark Horse is a blend of 91 per cent rye (itself a blend of 12-year-old and six-year-old pot-still product) combined with between eight and eight-point-five per cent bourbon and a drop or two of sherry. This sort of blend is within the parameters of the law when it comes to Canadian whisky, but on the off chance some of you purists are having conniptions, we at Tidings suggest you try it first. In the words of Canadian whisky expert and author Davin de Kergommeaux, “The bottom line for me, is that in the nose and on the palate this is a very, very tasty whisky…. It is so singular in flavour that I had to give up on the idea of blind tastings. I could identify it in an instant just from the nose.”

At the official launch – complete with a terrific dinner and cocktail matches at Toronto’s Turf Lounge – we were able to compare the Alberta Premium Dark Horse with Alberta Distillers’ flagship Alberta Premium (which, purists take note, is 100 per cent rye). There was no question that these were both exceptional – though different – whiskies. Whereas the Alberta Premium was all about in-your-face rye spice, marmalade and butterscotch, the Alberta Premium Dark Horse, while still unmistakably rye, showed more dark fruit, vanilla and sweet caramel with an overall rounder palate.

Interestingly, even though Alberta Premium Dark Horse is an “evolution” of Alberta Premium (okay, we said it, Alberta Distillers didn’t), those new to the punch delivered by 100 per cent rye whisky might want to start with the Alberta Premium Dark Horse as it is slightly “tamer” than the Alberta Premium in spite of its higher alcohol level (45 per cent).

Incidentally, the inspiration for Dark Horse was the story of Majestic Prince, one of the greatest thoroughbreds of all time, owned by Frank McMahon, the co-founder of Alberta Distillers. Majestic Prince almost won the Triple Crown in 1969, missing it by a nose in the Belmont Stakes, after winning the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness. A subtle yet highly detailed rendering of Majestic Prince can be seen on the front label of the Dark Horse bottle. Dark Horse also reflects Alberta Distillers’ commitment to supporting local Prairie farmers (through the purchase of Canadian rye grain), as well as Canada’s rodeos and local horse culture across the country.

So giddyup and git some!

Currently available in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia and priced at just under $30.00.

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