Alberta Premium Dark Horse 100% Rye Whisky

Alberta Premium Dark Horse 45% alc/vol

April 10, 2017


Slate, charcoal, bourbon-like vanilla, sweet pickles, dark fruits, sweet and herbal flowers, hot pepper, sweet ginger and crispy clean oak. An extraordinary symphony of rye. ★★★★★

There is no doubt about it, Canadian rye whisky is in resurgence. Whisky connoisseurs and a new generation of whisky drinkers alike are actively seeking it out. And according to the folks at Alberta Distillers, it’s the super-premium Canadian whiskies that are leading the way. Among the whiskies at the head of the field is a bold, rich-tasting version of their own Alberta Premium. They call this new whisky “Alberta Premium Dark Horse.”

Dark Horse builds on the stellar reputation of the 100-percent-rye-grain Alberta Premium. Alberta Distillers is one of the very few producers of 100 percent rye-grain whisky in North America, and each year it makes about 225,000 cases of Alberta Premium.

That’s impressive when you consider that despite the “rye renaissance” in North America, all the distilleries in the U.S. put together sell a total of 900,000 cases of rye. Even more striking is the fact that Alberta Premium is sold in Canada only. Still, among whisky aficionados it has become one of the best known Canadian whiskies right around the world. Alberta Premium Dark Horse is also available in the US now, where it is called Alberta Rye Dark Batch.

Alberta Distillers Ltd. was founded in 1946 by entrepreneurs, Max Bell and Frank McMahon. From the beginning their philosophy was strongly influenced by their western heritage and rural values. They were Prairie boys to the core. The distillery began producing Alberta Premium over 50 years ago and since then has become Canada’s largest buyer of rye grain. Most often it purchases the grain directly from farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, many of whom still deliver it themselves by truck.

Alberta Premium showcases all the spicy, peppery notes of high-rye-grain whisky. And now those whisky drinkers seeking richer, more robust, and more sophisticated flavours can reach for  Alberta Premium Dark Horse. It’s simply an extraordinary symphony of rye.

A mingling of 12-year-old rye whisky and 6-year-old small pot rye, Dark Horse has an 8% dollop* of well-aged corn whisky added to flesh out the body. The whisky is aged in heavily charred American white oak barrels, and is bottled at 45% alc/vol. Rich oak caramels and vanillas imbue Dark Horse with classic bourbon notes which complement the signature spiciness of Canadian Prairie rye grain.

According to Beam Canada’s former Canadian Master Whisky Ambassador, Dan Tullio, “Dark Horse is one of the richest tasting Canadian whiskies with some of the highest barrel ageing extractives available.” Whether it’s the power of suggestion or a happy synergy with the name, the way Tullio tells it, “When tasting Dark Horse, you experience a horseshoe-shaped pattern on the tongue, with tanginess and spice on the sides and sweetness on the tip.” Honestly, once he said it, I got it.

Nose: Wet cement, slate, dust, charcoal, burnt wood, something herbal, and all the glorious scents of torrefaction. A complex synthesis of rye spices with acetone, dry grain, pickles, and flowers. Rich vanilla wafts over burnt toffee with its very bourbon-like presence, before raspberries, dark fruits, SweeTarts®, dry orange peel, lilacs, and rosewater bring us back to rye. The nose is rich and full – almost oily – with overtones of marigolds, sweet pickles, blackstrap molasses and clean crispy oak. Complex, yes, and beautifully composed.

Palate: Starts out strongly with vanilla, toffee, and hot pepper, followed closely by sweet ginger and pleasantly bitter grapefruit pith. This is a classic rye palate all the way. Slightly pulling oak tannins speak of age – orange zest, dried figs, and raspberries of complexity. The weighty body has the feel but not the flavour of sour black licorice. Real burnt charcoal follows every sip with a typical rye sourness in the background. Hot pepper and singeing ginger settle down in a bath of blackstrap molasses, and rich dark fruits.

Finish: Long. Lingering hot spices and pepper with a side of prunes.

Empty glass: Crispy oak with hints of charred firewood, stewed fruit, toffee, cotton candy, and charcoal.

$32.95 at LCBO and across Canada.

Very Highly recommended. ★★★★★

*Thank you Portwood for the “dollop.” It also includes a 0.5 to 1% “smidgen” of sherry.

Alberta Premium 30 year old is reviewed here.

Alberta Premium 25 year old is reviewed here.

Alberta Springs 10 year old is reviewed here.


99 Responses to “Alberta Premium Dark Horse 45% alc/vol”

  1. Brian:

    Where did this bottle come from!?!

    I’ll never stop praising Alberta Distillers for making things both amazing and affordable. Love these guys.

    • Davin:

      Hi Brian,

      It’s brand new and just working its way through the system at LCBO and across the country. It has been added to the core range of Alberta Premium so will be widely available.

      • Dan:

        This bold looking package resonates perfectly with the robust spirit inside!!

    • Doug:

      On the recommendation of a LCBO manager, several years ago now, I purchased Alberta Premium rye, and now only purchase AP – I picked up the Dark Horse to try, but will likely not purchase another bottle of it – prefer the 100% Canadian rye. According to internet info – AP rye is only sold in Canada – so I am surprised that they have made the decision to make a blended version. Do they have sights on an American market?

      • Davin:

        I think Dark Horse is aimed more for the connoisseur market while the standard AP remains a solid mixing whisky.

      • Chad:

        If I understand right, I believe AP is heavily exported around the world and rebottled as premium products – ie. Masterson’s Rye is just rebranded AP. I could be wrong, but that’s what I’ve heard…

        • Davin:

          You are right, but not completely right. Masterson’s and Alberta Premium are very different whiskies although both made by Alberta Distillers from all rye grain. They use slightly different distilling processes and stills, and Masterson’s is aged much longer and mostly in first-fill bourbon barrels.

  2. Dave:

    Davin this is great. Very interested to try this after reading your review. How does this compare with the older Alberta Premiums we’ve seen, like the 30 year old?

    Thanks for all the great reviews.

    • Davin:

      Hi Dave,

      This is a brand new whisky with a new flavour profile. It is much bigger and more flavourful than the original AP, and nothing like the AP30. It is huge on rye grain flavours with loads of vanilla on top. I really like it. Sip or mix at this price, but I’ll sip it.


      • Dave:

        Thanks Davin! Was excited to try this last weekend and it didn’t disappoint.

  3. portwood:

    Twitter reports from the tasting you attended (led?) last night claim the Dark Horse contains 8.5% corn whisky and 0.5% sherry. With due respect, 8.5% is not “a smidgen” as you describe it – I would call it a dollop!!!

    As I understand it, adding up to 1/11 parts wine (sherry) is legal within the defenition of “Canadian Whisky”. You go to great lengths in your recent book to point out that (most?) premium whiskies stay away from additives. I know there is a trend for producers to introduce flavoured whiskes. There is demand for this type of product – I get it. However, I find this a step backwards for putting quality Canadian whisky back on the world map! This does nothing to dispell the deeply held notion that all Canadian whisky contains the dreaded 9.09% additives.

    I realize Scotch producers “add” sherry/bourbon/other to their whiskies. They do it at the beginning of the maturation process by filling newmake into “wet casks” and/or by ACEing. Call me stupid/naive/or what you like, but I find that adding to the product at the end is akin to cheating. Not disclosing it on the label is almost fraudulent – especially for a producer widely known for using 100% rye grain. They’re so widely known for using 100% rye grain that all the amateurs like me are commenting on blogs/forums have ASSumed that Dark Horse must also be 100% rye.

    Please tell me I’m wrong about the additives in the Dark Horse.

    p.s. I’ve tried contacting Beam Global (owner of AP) to get clarification on the ingredients. To date, they have not responded. So far I have not been able to find an official website for Alberta Distillers.

    • portwood:

      I forgot to add that the product is well priced (like all other AP’s). I’ve actually purchased a bottle and admit to be enjoying the taste.

      At the end of the day it’s about the TASTE! I just wish there was more transparency in Canadian Whisky.

    • Davin:

      Howdy Portwood,

      You are correct.

      My review was written over a month ago using the best information I had at the time. Last night, in discussions with the brand team I learned that Dark Horse is 91% rye-grain whisky, between 8 and 8.5% bourbon and between 0.5 and 1.0% sherry. Thanks for the word “dollop.” I was up past 2:00 am last night and am just surfacing now, but I will adjust the review sometime today.

      The bottom line for me, is that in the nose and on the palate this is a very, very tasty whisky. I sampled it 5 times in structured tastings before writing the first draft of my review and each time my score was a little bit higher. 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.

      Last night at the launch party I had people taste the Dark Horse then go back to the standard Alberta Premium and tell me their reaction. Dark Horse was very clearly the favourite.


      • portwood:

        Thanks for the reply, you’re a gentleman.
        As I mentioned above I LIKE the taste of the Dark Horse and that’s what’s important after all.

        What I’m not happy about is calling this product “Canadian Whisky”. It should be more accurately called “flavoured whisky”. Someone should stand up and tell the industry to stop using the term “Canadian Whisky” for just about anything alcoholic produced in Canada! Traditions are important but in the information age transparency is important.

        I hate government regulation but it may be time for some tighter restrictions on Canadian Whisky to tell the world the stuff is as good as, or better, than Scotch, Straight Bourbon, and Straight Rye!!! That can’t happen as long as the terms Canadian Whisky, and Canadian Rye Whisky are used so loosely.

        Thanks for listening to my rants.


    • portwood:

      One month later, still no response from Beam or Ap.

      They don’t care to respond to customer inquiries. I no longer care for their products. I’ve bought my last bottle of AP.

      • DANNYD:

        Portwood: the reason as far as I can see in the poor reputation of our whiskey stems from the fact that like JD, Johnnie, and Jameson, Crown Royal the disgusting Diageo swill is our globally recognizible whiskey brand and frankly its disgusting and tastes as though they add moonshine to it before bottling. I think this has more to do with distribution and advertising than quality.

    • Fred Underhill:

      The .085 corn content is referred to as a dollop, not a smidgen. The .005 to .01 of sherry is referred to as a smidgen. This was pretty clear.

      • Fred Underhill:

        You say 1/11 is sherry and yet you are aware it is between .005 and .01 in content. Or 1/200 to 1/100…obviously enough, right

  4. Hi Davin

    It is nice to see the information about this whisky a little more fleshed out thanks to Portwood’s twitter report.

    I am surprised that the ration of Corn whisky added to Sherry added is about 16 to 1. (I had previously been told by Beam that the whisky was flavoured with bourbon and sherry, but I had no concrete information until now.) The reason I was surprised was because when I tasted the whisky, I found the corn or bourbon flavour was somewhat lost in the shuffle between the rye and the sherry (and I said so in my review). I think it goes to show just how powerful of a flavouring agent sherry actually is. A little goes a long way.

    I agree with Portwood however that it might have been better if the corn whisky and especially the sherry had been in the barrels with the whisky instead of (as it appears) blended in at the end. I found the flavours of the Sherry and the rye seemed to be apart from one another rather than in harmony and I think a longer time in a barrel together might have created the balance I was looking for. (I think we disagree on that point which is perfectly okay as if we agreed all the time then life would not be so interesting)

    I appreciate the great review as always and look forward to your visit in two weeks.

    • Davin:

      Hi Chip,

      Yes, I am looking forward to our get-together in a couple of weeks.

      In fairness, launching a new whisky is a massive undertaking and not all the questions get answered at once. The folks from Beam were entirely up-front about the composition of the whisky. No guarded statements at all. They are hugely proud of its flavour. The actual composition came to light in our pre-launch discussions yesterday around 6:00 pm. Since my review was already written and set to post before I got back to my hotel I made the tweaks this morning.

      The first time I tried Dark Horse it was a 4.5 star whisky. I agree, it needed a bit more marrying, but it came together very nicely in the bottle over a week or so and my last three tastings were all 5-stars. I think this is one of those whiskies that improves with each tasting.

  5. Hey Davin, why is it called Dark Horse? Was it aged/finished in boubon casks? and do you know how old the whisky is? PS. I hope Portwood is wrong because that would be disappointing that some Canadian Whiskies have added flavors.

    • Davin:

      Hi John,

      The name comes from a famous race horse – Majestic Prince – that was owned and raced to great success by one of the distillery’s founders, Frank McMahon.

      Yes, the whisky was aged in an assortment of barrels, primarily freshly-dumped Maker’s Mark or Jim Beam barrels.

      I am told that 51% of the whisky is at least 12 years old and 40% is at least 6 years old. I do not know the age of the corn whisky (bourbon from heavily charred virgin barrels.) I just didn’t ask.

      Yes, there is a small amount of sherry added – between 0.5 and 1%, I am told.

  6. CBrown:

    Really interesting info on all this and at the end of the day the “proof” is in the glass but I for one would like to see stronger truth in bottling if for no other reason than to keep a level playing field for whisky content and to eliminate the questioning of the integrity of our product from outside Canada.

    There’s also the slippery slope theory, especially as our industry has taken a much more serious approach to producing and marketing higher end bottlings. It’s nice to know that what I’ve paid top dollar for is not trickery from the lab troweled over a solid base.

    And just to keep it in perspective…as for the addition of sherry to the mix. If my calculations are correct .5 – 1% equals about 1/3 teaspoon (give or take) per 750m. bottle .

    • portwood:

      E150a is also much less than 1/3 of a teaspoon per 750ml but I would prefer if producers didn’t use it to doctor the colour of the final product!

      There are plenty of liqueurs available that add all kinds of things to an alcohol base, the majority are not considered premium and are priced accordingly. Single Malts, Straight Bourbon, and Straight Rye carry higher prices partly due to the pure nature of the known ingredients and long aging. Drambuie and Southern Comfort are whisky liqueurs but the former is not a Scotch and the latter is not a bourbon. Likewise, the Dark Horse is a liqueur or a flavoured whisky. The current rules allow AP to call it Canadian Whisky. I think the rules should be changed to prevent drinks like the DH from carrying the Canadian Whisky label!

      • Michael:

        Under Canadian Whisky Laws – 91% must be canadian whisky the remaining 9% can be additives. Most companies will use coloring, synthetic flavoring to target consumer flavour profiles. I believe it is very authentic that Dark Horse uses aged proper natural liquid to add to a flavour profile that is first in its category! To claim that DH should be a “liqueur” or “flavoured Whisky” is to claim a high % of the entire category should be as such unless they are 100% base material. To single out DH as being a product that should not be carrying the ‘Canadian Whisky’ label is unfounded. Unfortunately then consumers who have been drinking Crown, CC, Seagram’s for hundreds of years must really enjoy the liqueur & flavoured whisky category and should be renamed “Great White North Whisky”.

        • Davin:

          Hi Michael,

          This is a difficult issue for whisky lovers to wrap their heads around, especially if they have gained their knowledge of whisky from single-malts marketers and brand ambassadors whose goal is to convince us that Scotch is the only real whisky. The reality is that Canadian regulations allow some non-Canadian-whisky elements in the final blend. Most often this is used for bulk whisky that is exported to the U.S. By adding a small amount of U.S. spirit producers can get huge tax breaks. The “flavouring” added to Canadian whisky usually refers to real Canadian “flavouring whisky” that is very high rye-grain whisky or bourbon that is made in Canada. Synthetic flavours are not used. Any spirits added must be at least two years old. Some distillers also use this regulation to add 2-year-old Canadian rye-grain whisky as top dressing since very young rye is so vibrant. There are so many combinations and permutations that it is hard to describe all. However this really is Canadian whisky and it must meet Canadian regulations, not U.S. regulations or Scottish.

          Over the past few weeks I have poured a large range of Canadian whiskies at a number of tastings in Ontario and in Alberta and I can tell you, based on the tasting and nosing experience it is a strong favourite, even with the single malt clubs. To me, the joy of whisky is the pleasure it gives on the tongue and in the nose. Dark Horse is real Canadian whisky, it is very delicious, and although it would never qualify as Scotch or bourbon I really like what it does to my tongue.

          I also like the fact that Beam is 100% up front about how they made this whisky.

  7. Andy:

    This one seems interesting to me. The nose is really great, but on the palate and the finish each time I have some I taste purple blackcurrant Halls Coughcandies. I enjoy it, but not as much as some of the other Canadian Whiskies at the same pricepoint (wiser’s sb, forty creek copper pot). Might be interesting what the profile would be with no sherry.

  8. [...] 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. [...]

  9. Robb:

    Simply stated, Fine Very Fine, just like Alberta Springs my regular purchase.
    No Need for alot of words, just keep up the good work your company is simply the best craftman in the Canadian Rye Industry.
    Keeping it all Rye makes others like C.R. running…lol

  10. Josh:

    Does anyone else find this tastes more like rum than whisky?

    • Davin:

      Great comment. A friend of mine does a masterclass in which he pours well aged Scotch, rye, cognac and rum and asks people to guess which is which. Very few can tell one from the other in long-aged spirit.

    • Dennis:

      I know what you’re saying about the Dark Horse tasting like RUM … I wanted to
      try some different Rye’s & picked this APDH up but really don’t like the after taste – Something odd in the flavour & tastes more like a rum … I don’t like the flavoured rye’s everyones coming up with… If I want flavours like that I’ll drink rum

  11. Josh:

    It reminds me very much of Cruzan single barrel rum with all the dark fruits and oak. In fact, I can’t taste any rye at all. Especially when compared to Wisers Legacy. I enjoy it, but this is an odd spirit. I agree with those who say it should be classified as a flavored whisky.

  12. Jason:

    Davin, you said you like this for sipping. Would you describe it as smooth?

    • Davin:

      Hi Jason,

      I don’t use that word a lot. This whisky if rich, complex with no rough edges and no bite yet it is very flavourful. Is that helpful?

      • Jason:

        That is very helpful. Thanks Davin.

  13. [...] reasonably priced while the Dark Horse just continues the trend. It’s a solid rye base with a “dollop” of  bourbon and a smidgen of sherry. Another fantastic recommendation. /* [...]

  14. Josh:


    Do you know if this is a limited edition? Just want to know if I should be hoarding some bottles away.

    • Davin:

      My understanding is that this in NOT a limited edition and will be a permanent part of the Alberta Premium line-up.

  15. Dave:

    Rum was my first love, before I discovered bourbon. However I think I’ve found a new love… “Dark Horse”.

  16. Gary:

    Hello Davin

    This is my first reply to your website although I have been reading it for quite some time and made many purchases based on your findings. I check it frequently.

    Just finished a dram of Wisers Legacy and AP Dark Horse one after the other and both bottles were left for sometime when one third was left. Its my favourite part of the bottle( rye or scotch)
    I drank the Legacy first with a splash of water and was happily rewarded with rich creamy ‘no rough edges’,spice and friut notes etc. Very very nice and put the bottle away. Next, drank the Dark Horse , with water,and got the usual rich rye spice that Alberta Premium is famous for (have long finished a bottle of 30yr old) and a wonderful hint of bourbon, couldn’t tell of the sherry though.The difference between the two was obvious, I was compelled to have more Dark Horse and did. It was like a party in the mouth , not so much like a conference as with the Wisers. The bottle is still open. Glad I have another on hand. $29.95 eh!, very Canadian.
    Just have to get my hands on Some 40 Creek Portwood.

    • Davin:

      Hi Gary,
      Thanks for your comments.
      There is a lot of fruitiness in rye, especially when it has been aged for a long time. Some of this is obvious and some so subtle that you can’t really taste it. I think they added just enough sherry to bring these notes into the fore, without contributing much in the way of actual sherry flavours. I think they have done a masterful job blending this one. I also think the corn adds another dimension, especially in the creamy mouth feel. Glad you like it too.

    • Sailor Joe:

      Just returned from a trip in the States after binging on an abundance of strait rye’s.

      Returned to Canada and bought Dark Horse. DH makes other strait rye’s taste boring. Don’t care much for the controversy. It gets my money.

      • Davin:

        Good for you. a confident whisky drinker thinks with his palate!

  17. 30$ for Dark Horse bottle
    25$ (a few years ago) for a 25yo Alberta Premium bottle
    50$ for a 30yo Alberta Premium Bottle

    wonder how they manage to make profits ?

    Nice comments everyone, can’t wait to open my bottle.

  18. Mike:

    I love this whisky, and certainly find it smooth. Extremely drinkable and well-balanced.

    • Davin:

      Me too!

  19. Yannis:

    Agreed. This is extremely drinkable. As someone who is obsessed with bourbon and American rye, and still learning the ropes of Canadian whisky (made all the more difficult because of the SAQ), this is a delicious dram, and so far, one of my favourite Canadian whiskies.

  20. otto:

    Too much sherry, I cut it with Alberta Springs and then I find it very drinkable. As with all their products very reasonably priced rye whisky. Makes me happy to be Canadian. I find most Canadian whisky made with NO rye too similar to bourbon which I find rather sour like the “white lightening” we got in our youth. I am sure that was corn mash as well (and not aged at all and not in oak) like German Doornkaat. To be served freezing and with good Jever Pils!

  21. otto:

    Doornkaat not our whisky!

  22. Mike:

    Yannis, if you like American rye you should try to find Lot 40 Canadian rye.

    • Yannis:

      Noted. Picked up two bottles at the LCBO. Tasted. The nose reminded me of a young Sazerac. I thought I was imagining things, but I had a half-empty Saz on hand for comparison. Thanks for the tip, Mike.

  23. Pat:

    I’m new to the world of Canadian Whisky but so far this one takes the cake. It’s spicy – bang on with that horseshoe metaphore – and just sweet enough to be pleasant but not overpowering. My local NB liquor had a bottle of Dark Horse open and they gave me a sample after which I really couldn’t resist buying it.

    This is my third bottle after 40 Creek and Lot 40, both of which are good (the Lot 40 being really interesting, almost dry). Love your website and I’ll keep using it as resource #1 for discovering which bottles to buy. I think I’ll be going for Pike Creek next month…can’t wait!

  24. Sanjeev:

    Hi Davin,

    After hearing your interview on CBS Radio, I went straight to the LCBO and got a bottle of Dark Horse.

    I’m a complete Rye newbie and generally have been a scotch and rum drinker so I cannot comment on the ‘ryeness’ of this whisky.

    However, I must admit that Darkhorse is an excellent whisky and somehow reminded me of good aged rums (like El Dorado). The nose seems to change with breathing and gets to be much more fragrant after 10 minutes or so. So too with the taste, it seems to get a bit sweeter/spicier after sitting in the glass for a while.

    All in all a great whiskey and I’m glad CBC Radio got you to shine the light on this excellent product.

  25. Mike from Sarnia:

    Interesting, because I could not get over how much bourbon flavour existed within.

  26. Ryan:

    Just picked up a bottle tonight and although I am enjoying it, I find the bourbon overpowers the rye. I”ve grown to love AP over the last 6 months in my recent foray into the rye world, but Dark Horse seems a little less refined and almost too sweet. I’ll need to spend more time, but my intitial impressions have left me somewhat disappointed. If I want a bourbon, I’ll buy a bourbon, not a bourbon flavored rye. That being said, this is still one of the better Canadian Whiskies I’ve tasted in my recent travels, just not what I expected.

  27. Momist:

    I’ve been craving Alberta rye whiskys since I discovered them on a visit to Toronto many years ago. What a pity we can’t get them here in the UK! It’s all Canadian Club here, and pretty much nothing else.

  28. Augie M.:

    I tried the Dark Horse and about 3 months ago and I fell in love with it. Its boldness, combined with the ingenious mixture of flavours, make it hard to resist. Too bad it’s not available at all liquor stores in Toronto, but is definitely worth the extra drive!
    I did not know the Dark Horse is not available in the US; I now have a present for my American friends that will make them emigrate to Canada :)

    • Davin:

      Yes, I am glad we agree. Dark Horse is one of my favourite whiskies. I’m not sure how much longer they will be able to resist the pressure to release it in the US.

  29. [...] offering from Alberta Premium called Dark Horse and was thoroughly intrigued by the review on, especially after reading one of the comments below the review: Dark Horse is 91% rye-grain whisky, [...]

  30. Matthieu:

    I just recently bought this on a whim.

    I tend to try different ryes, rather than stick to one brand. I blame growing up and only hearing about Crown Royal. But when I find a good one, I’ll buy a few bottles in a row.

    I don’t mix my whiskey and I do not consider myself a connoisseur, but I really love it. I don’t even recall buying the standard AP.

    • Davin:

      I love it too. Very good whisky.

  31. Bill:

    Loving the Dark Horse.

    I’ve got 4 Canadians in rotation at the moment. Dark Horse, Wiser’s Small Batch, CC 10, and Forty Creek Copper Pot.

    I do believe I like the Horse the best of the lot.

    Well done, AP.

    • rob:

      I started out thinking Wiser’s Small batch was going to be my go to sipper. Then we did a tasting of SB, Forty Creek Copper Pot Still, DH and CC Sherry Cask. I ranked DH first with the Sherry Cask a close second. Surprisingly (to me) my former favourite came in dead last (as it did with the others involved in the tasting). Overall I was out-voted on the number one ranking as the others gave Sherry Cask first and DH second place. As a side note DH is quite excellent when paired with plain roasted cashews or good quality (home-made) chocolate cake!

      • Davin:

        I guess the lesson here is to mix it up. Tastes change depending on your mood, the weather, and a dozen other things. I can’t honestly say I have a “go-to” whisky. Rather, I have about a dozen of them depending on my mood and the occasion. Like you, I love Dark Horse.

  32. [...] 2oz. Rye (I use either Dark Horse <you can’t get this in the U.S.> or Alberta Springs) .75oz. Amaro Montenegro 7 drops [...]

  33. Mark Maranta:

    This whiskey is far too good. Plus every bottle I buy seems to have a small hole in it. Sigh. Trust Alberta Distillers to come up with a whiskey even better than my all-time favourite, Alberta Springs. Thank you.

  34. Craig:

    I had a taste of this a few months back and was pleasantly surprised, since I had been discovering single malt and found Dark Horse’s nose to be quite harsh at first.

    I was leafing through the copy of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2013 I picked up a couple of days ago and he rated Dark Horse a full 10 points lower than Alberta Premium’s flagship product. (84 for Dark Horse, 94 for Alberta Premium). I’ve never tried the original AP, having written it off as an inexpensive blend made for mixing. Now I’m wondering, should I invest in a bottle of the original for sipping purposes? Jim Murray’s review is positively glowing but contrary to everything else I’ve read.

    • Davin:

      I can not explain someone else’s taste. To me Alberta Premium is good mixing whisky while Dark Horse is great for sipping (fine for mixing too, especially in high-end cocktails). I would rate Dark Horse at least 10 points higher than the standard AP.

      • Craig:

        Thanks for the quick reply! I suspect my next Canadian purchase will be Forty Creek Copper Pot. Maybe I’ll get lucky in the meantime and find a chance to try AP without buying the whole 750ml.

  35. Angela Collins:

    I do believe the use of the term “100% rye” refers to the type(s)/amounts of grain used in production as opposed to a combination of grains, e.g. wheat and etc. In these modern times, I’ve read, Alberta Whiskey is the only remaining Canadian whiskey that’s still made in the Canadian tradition all rye GRAIN, (no wheat). Whether other ingredients are added at the beginning, or the end of production; whether added to enhance, level out or round out is inconsequential to the term 100% rye. It’s the only whiskey for me. Great to be Canadian, eh!

  36. Graham Richardson:

    Send me some to the uk I really want to try some.

  37. Dan:

    After whiskey tasting night and having Dark Horse I am converted. It is bold and flavourful. Two thumbs up to Alberta Distiller’s.

  38. Andrew:

    I think the problem people have with this product is that the grain percentages in the whisky are from the blending of 100% grain whiskies instead of an American-style mashbill. Then the labeling of the corn whisky as “bourbon” makes people assume it’s an American made product, when as you’ve documented, ADL makes their own corn whisky for Alberta Springs 10. With this, Dark Horse could be 99.5% Canadian whisky and 0.5% sherry, well within the limits of the law.

    • Davin:

      This whisky is hugely popular and I don’t think they are experiencing problems. However, shouldn’t the flavour be the determining factor and not a process that was made up by politicians to suit their needs and not those of whisky makers and lovers?

  39. Vernon:

    Wow! just tried my first bottle of Dark Horse, amazing!
    I have long been a fan of Alberta Distilleries, loving the Premium and of course the 10 year old, but this, is something else! I still cannot believe how inexpensive this rye is and the flavour is just incredible!
    Thank you so very much!
    100% rye rules!
    I am going to give up scotch permanently for my new favorite drink.

  40. Gary Gillman:

    Hi Davin:

    Having been hugely impressed with the current shelf offerings (they vary slightly and the latest ones are the best-balanced, IMO), and going through the long list of comments here, I am trying to figure out where the slate and wet cement notes, which are a hallmark of this brand, come from. If the 91% rye grain whisky is distilled out at a high proof, it wouldn’t have that, it would be much more neutral than that. It could conceivably come from the 8% or so that is bourbon if it is very young bourbon, say 2 years old. The sherry would not contribute this. The slatey notes are similar to what you get in Lot 40, or Collingwood 21 years old, and there it is clearly from rye-mash whisky distilled out at a low proof.

    Where do you figure that element is coming from? Can the 91% rye grain whisky be a pot still (i.e., distilled at low proof)? My guess would be, the 91% is regular Alberta Springs 12 year old whisky, i.e., mostly comprised or all comprised of neutral-tasting rye-based whisky, and the 8% is very young bourbon or corn whiskey perhaps (if distilled in Alberta) and it is the corny stuff that lends the slate and acetone notes.


    • Davin:

      Hi Gary,
      There is pot distilled rye (about 40%) and column distilled rye in there. Neither is neutral after it is mature. There is also a lot of new wood used.
      I love it.

  41. Gary Gillman:

    Okay thanks Davin. That slate/acetone must be from the pot-distilled rye (the 6 year old rye we’ve read about, presumably) – this is what gives the real old-fashioned rye taste. I agree it is superlative, but the one on the shelf now (LCBO) is particularly so.


  42. [...] all starts with our Canadian Rye and Alberta Premium Dark Horse is the [...]

  43. Bob D.:

    I’ve recently spent a small fortune restocking my home bar after many years of neglect.(currently 235 bottles). Now, I’ve gotta say that I love my Ardbeg Uigeadail, Booker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and Aberlour A’bunadh,,,, but the one ” absolute bargain” stand-out in my whiskey collection, has got to be the Dark Horse. Very different from those previously mentioned, but fabulous in it’s own right, and VERY versatile as either a straight sipper, or with a couple of drops of water, or with a single ice-cube. Beautifully robust and flavorful, yet smooth as silk. This is a whiskey that’ll suit many moods, without overpowering.

    In my book, the Dark Horse defines “an affordable daily dram”. (and then some). I’ve introduced quite a few friends to the Dark Horse, and they’re all happy converts. Enjoy!!!

  44. mr:

    got a bottle of DH today. smooth and goes down easy, straight. great value as well. will repurchase as rye choice.

  45. [...] sipping Alberta Premium Dark Horse Rye and watching the Grammys. Life is nothing, if not [...]

  46. Ronnie W:

    In all ignorance I had never heard of Dark Horse until today when, with my regular purchase of Alberta Springs 10 year old, I found attached to the 1.75 L bottle not one but two 50 ml samples of Dark Horse. Always open to try presented new Canadian Whisky products, at our cocktail hour I bypassed my home blended favourite (previously discussed under Alberta Springs) and tried the Dark Horse on the rocks. The abundance of flavour took me back for it was so unlike Alberta’s products. In essence Dark Horse is somewhat of a Manhattan on the rocks when poured over ice. The Sherry which is notable, substitutes the sweet Vermouth but certainly not successfully. Vermouth and Sherry are chalk and cheese. Coming aboard this site to learn more I find that we are dealing with a six year old whisky. Yes, there are components 12 years in wood but wood date is always expressed as the youngest in the blend. The “dollop” of bourbon is excessive and tends to make the product more of a light bourbon in taste. The classic rich grain sweetness potentially attained in such a blend is achieved at a much lesser percentage of corn (bourbon) and would as a result not need additives to artificially create sweetness. While I am able to alter Alberta Springs to my liking by my personal additives, I am unable to remove the flavours that I disagree with in Dark Horse so will continue to be loyal to Springs with all it’s possibilities.

  47. [...] to Canadian Whisky – who I still don’t know where they get their information from; they probably go to [...]

  48. Ronnie W:

    Alberta Premium Dark Horse would certainly be a fitting drink today… May6,2015

  49. [...] The Dark Batch is one of the latest of an increasing number of interesting Canadian whiskies to hit the U.S. market. The same product has been marketed in Canada as Alberta Premium Dark Horse for a number of years — see Canadian whisky guru Davin de Kergommeaux’s write-up on it here. [...]

  50. Ronnie W:

    Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016 award for best whisky is not too surprising. The new Canadian Whisky product of Diegeo is a 90% Rye product. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the balance is derived from corn, namely bourbon.

    In my earlier comments, I spoke of my rebending Albert Springs, primarily a rye product, by adding a quantity of bourbon to achieve a desired personal taste. Interestingly enough, this is the very combination of whiskies that brought about the Whisky Bible award. No indication is given as to the age of the Diegeo product but my Alberta Springs “personal” stands as a ten year in wood. Unfortunately Jim didn’t have the opportunity to include mine in his evaluations.

  51. alex walter:

    I drank a couple of bottles of Dark Horse when I was in Canada for a week last summer, and all I can say is the above reviews are on target. If I could get this stuff in the States, this is what would be drinking right now instead of Maker’s mark.

    • Davin:

      You can get it in the U.S. It is called Alberta Rye Dark Batch. The name change is due to trademark reasons but the whisky is exactly the same.

  52. [...] l’exception accordée au whisky Canadian qui permet un léger pourcentage d’additifs.  Selon de bonnes sources ceci n’est plus vraiment pratique commune dans l’industrie mais plusieurs considère que [...]

  53. S Nowak:

    This is now my go to.
    I have tried many expensive Whiskeys (whisky in Canada) as well as some that were very cheap. For a while I became a bit of a Whisky snob. If it wasnt one of the big names or aged for at least 12 years I hated it before I even tasted it. As a proud Canadian I started to try more and more Canadian whiskies, as I am a big fan of Rye Whisky.
    Then about a year ago someone gave me a glass of AP Dark Horse but didnt tell me what it was, nor had I ever read any reviews on it. I fell in love with it from the first sip. With no preconceived ideas or influences I was able to be completely open minded. I love the complex flavours, the hints of this and that and the creamy texture. This Whisky had me at hello. As soon as I sniffed the glass I new it was going to be amazing.
    My point here is that , if you can get past obsessing over the fact that in each bottle someone added a few insignificant drops of sherry you will realize this is indeed a fine Whisky to be cherished. If you have a Cadillac and someone changes 1% of that car , for instance they change mirrors or change a few things in the dashboard its STILL a Cadillac.
    Dark Horse has inspired me to try many other Canadian whiskies. I am not saying its better than a $100.00 bottle of Scotch , but for the price its amazing. No matter how many times I try a new Whisky its always Dark Horse I keep stocked in my home.
    No more Whiskey snob for me.. no matter what the price or where its from if I like the taste, I like the taste that’s all there is to it,

  54. Alberta Premium is the best rye money can buy. There is no other. Cost is not a concern. This is the best rye no other can match. Now, Dark Horse I just received, as a complimentary taste from Alberta Premium has changed that. I believe it would only be Alberta Premium who could produce another “best”. Well done Alberta Premium. A senior who enjoys the very best at affordable pricing.

  55. Dave:

    So…looks like SLGA delisted Dark Horse and is no longer available…can you recommend an alternative that’s similar ?? Thanks!!

  56. chanman:

    Looks like it’s no longer be stocked at BC Liquor stores any more. The remaining stocks are running down. Is this product being discontinued by Beam Suntory?

    • Connor:


  57. I believe it has been discontinued by the producer.

    So, buy it now!

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