Alberta Springs 10 year old Canadian Whisky

Alberta Springs aged 10 years (40% alc./vol.)

November 12, 2011

Share

Luscious and weighty with beautifully integrated aromatic spices and waves of white pepper. Sweet, like Mackintosh’s® toffee, vanilla, and dried fruit. Citric zest, linen, some dustiness, and hints of oak. Spicy Rye. ★★★★☆

There are some things Canadians know almost instinctively: “Double-double” is coffee, usually Tim Horton’s coffee, with two sugars and two creams added, a “two-four” is a 24-bottle case of beer, and “rye” is whisky. In fact we Canadians start calling it rye, long before we ever learn some people refer to it as whisky.  We come to know what wheat is, and corn, and most of us also recognize barley. Eventually, some of us, though not most of us, learn there is a grain of some kind that is also called rye, but darned if we could ever tell you what it looks like, what it is used for, or which province produces the most of it.

Marketing folks love to extol the virtues of whatever sets their whisky apart. When it is distilled from four different grains, the marketers scream: FOUR GRAIN WHISKY!!! THE HOLY GRAIL!!! Similarly, when it is made from 100% rye grain, they scream: 100% RYE!!! THE HOLY GRAIL!!! So it is refreshing that the only major distillery in North America capable of regularly distilling whisky from 100% rye grain does not believe it necessarily has to scream about it, or even distil from 100% rye grain all the time.

Although they claim “100% rye” for their Alberta Premium line only, (and Alberta Premium is always distilled from a 100% rye-grain mash), Alberta Distillers actually makes a number of other whiskies that are also distilled from 100% rye grain. Most of the time that is. They do not claim 100% rye for these whiskies though, because sometimes, when they are blending a new batch, there is other whisky in the warehouse that also fits the rye flavour profile. The whiskies for each batch of Alberta Springs, for example, are selected based on the flavours they will contribute to the final blend, and not on some pre-determined recipe for marketing types to shout about. With Alberta Springs we are drinking a whisky, not a recipe. Yes, some batches may use nothing but rye distillate, but others, as the taste tests direct, may also include whiskies distilled from mashes made with corn, wheat, or even a rye-wheat hybrid called triticale (trit ih CAY lee). These guys are Canadians, eh? They know, first off, that rye is a drink.

Nose:  Starts out with typical rye notes including baking spices, some dustiness and a suggestion of sour pickles. A rich sweetness quickly follows with vanilla, butterscotch and black licorice.  There is sour fruit and sweet fruit, including green apples, apple juice, and Welch’s white grape juice. Very expressive.

Palate:  Begins sweet like Mackintosh’s® toffee, but with aromatic baking spices added – cloves, ginger, nutmeg – a hit of vanilla, and a vague fruitiness that resolves into red grapes with hints of dried fruit. Waves of hot pepper arrive quickly then linger in the back of the throat. A dry grain presence throughout complements hints of linen. It’s luscious and weighty in the mouth – thick and creamy with a syrupy slipperiness. The gingery heat on the tongue is balanced beautifully by a stimulating citric zestiness that keeps it all together. A surprising pinch of salt rounds it all out. Although the palate starts simple, ten years in barrels have not been wasted on Alberta Springs since it exhibits a developing complexity that is emphasized in the middle with notes of fresh-cut wood. This is a big whisky, and a bold one.

Finish:  Medium long. Peppery and spicy, with some lemony citric notes and a lingering sweetness. The pepper becomes more intense before fading out to a bitter citric zest.

Empty Glass:  Not much, but what is there includes sweet dry grain, hints of maple fudge, a dash of vanilla, and a hint of sour rye.

Alberta Distillers is probably best known for its Alberta Premium mixing whisky, a well-crafted 5-year old just bursting with caramel and hot pepper, and with a strong underlying citric zestiness.  But it is Alberta Springs that lights up the eyes of the folks at the distillery. Why? Alberta Springs is creamier, more flavourful, much more complex, and richer than the young Alberta Premium. Yes, Alberta Springs will mix with the best of them, but its creaminess, broad spice spectrum, hints of wood, and complexity make it one fine sipper as well.

$23.00 at LCBO.

Highly recommended ★★★★☆

Alberta Premium Dark Horse is reviewed here.

Alberta Premium 25 year old is reviewed here.

Alberta Premium 30 year old Limited Edition is reviewed here.

Alberta Springs Silver Medal and Sippin' Whisky Domestic Canadian Whisky Awards 2011

News update: Alberta Springs has won a silver medal and been named Sippin' Whisky of the Year - Domestic in the 2011 Canadian Whisky Awards.


Comments

70 Responses to “Alberta Springs aged 10 years (40% alc./vol.)”

  1. tim:

    This rye is commonly available in a 13 oz plastic bottle or a 26 oz glass bottle. When buying a whisky that I’ve never tasted before I like the option of buying a small size – but I do not like drinking liquor stored in plastic as the thought of what may leach out disturbs me…

    Alberta Springs is a fine well priced rye.

    • Davin:

      Hi Tim,
      I have to say I am not a big fan of plastic bottles either, though more for esthetic reasons. I have never really looked into the possibility of leaching from PET.
      Davin

    • Michael V:

      I just had a mail conversation with an old friend and I remembered that he was impressed that our Bottle of Alberta Springs Sipping Whiskey looked similar to a certain elixir by a Mr. Jack from Tennessee.

      A few years later, I was lucky enough to tour the storied Hollow in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I asked our guide what they did with the old Jack Daniel barrels?

      “We sell them to a place in Alberta, Canada where they use a different process to make Alberta Springs Sipping Whiskey. They char the insides of the old barrels, then age their whiskey that way instead of filtering with the oak charcoal, and then age it in that charred oak barrel we make here, which we only use once.”

      Well, could’a knocked me over with a feather, but not because of the whiskey. Turns out you cannot drink in the Dry county of Moore, Tennessee.

      I made a bee line outta that county to try the 100 year old whiskey I got there! lol

      • Michael V:

        Got a couple edits.

        Turns out you can drink in Moore County, but only in a “private” setting. But for tourists, it is Dry. It is also one of the several cases where Less is Moore! ;)

        Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is aged in a raw un-charred oak barrel, and is part of the Total Aging Process of Alberta Springs… well the first 8-10 years anyways.

  2. Tim N.:

    I know from experience that spirits do not retain their original form after being in plastic for x number of years – esp if they are exposed to sunlight. I’ve poured the contents of old mini’s down the drain after taking a sniff and noting odours of deteriorating plastic.

    Here’s to distilleries that ONLY use glass!

    • Davin:

      Yeah, I agree. It is not always the distillery’s choice though. In at least one market, plastic is required for “environmental” reasons for whiskies selling above a certain number of cases. I’ve never kept a plastic bottle long enough to notice the effects that you found with those plastic minis, but there’s another reason to think about going back to glass – “health” reasons.

  3. Tim N:

    Interesting that markets can dictate requirements of packaging. Plastic is not good for landfills though – if only everyone recycled!

    A couple pro’s for using plastic: significant reduction in weight which lowers distribution costs; significantly fewer broken bottles from cradle to grave, reports of 90% reduction in lost merchandise.

    • Davin:

      Yes, some buyers exercise considerable clout. I have heard distillers (not just whisky) complaining that when they reach a certain sales volume they have to put their product in plastic for one specific market. I know the buyers mean well, but when have you ever bought a plastic bottle when you wanted to impress a client, host or guest?

  4. james:

    Buy the 26oz bottles then — always glass. Problem solved.

  5. Jerry Munro:

    Mostly, I have been a scotch drinker. Which I still love.
    But recently, being a Canadian, and becoming aware that there are some better Canadian Whiskies evolving out there, I have started sampling some of them.

    But next let me say, that my traditional way of drinking whiskey is 1 1/2 oz of whiskey with one ice cube. Which generally produces a lovely drink. For example, with Centennial Rye Whiskey too… an outstanding whiskey it turned out, much to my surprise.

    But I’ve got here in front of me this glass, my third dram, of Alberta Springs 10 yr. old. Outstanding. In my opinion, the first Canadian Whiskey I’ve encountered as good as a good scotch. (Though there are still superior to it single malt scotch whiskies.)

    But this Albera Springs 10 yr.old is soooo smooth, I’ve stopped drinking it with an ice cube… first time ever. It’s full bouquet and flavour stands better alone. And is still smooth as silk. No harshness.

    An outstanding Canadian sipping whiskey. The best I have encountered yet.

    I hope this evolution of Canadian Rye Whiskies continues. It is producing some exciting and interesting drinking experiences.

    Best yet… Alberta Springs 10 yr old. Move over Scotland, the Canadians are coming.

    • Davin:

      Hi Jerry,
      Thanks for your comment. Clearly you “get it.” Yes, just like you I love Scotch, but you are right; there are quite a few really great Canadian whiskies out there as well. Alberta Springs is one of them, and there are many more.
      Davin

  6. Andy Mac:

    I agree with Mr. Munro. I’m 2nd gen. Canadian of Scottish descent and have sampled many fine Scottish whiskeys.
    I’d have to say Alberta Springs is the best. especially for the money. But I only buy the glass bottles. Funny thing is the make a large bottle as well 60 pounder is also plastic but the 26 and 40 are glass.

    • Davin:

      Hi Andy,
      Yes, Alberta Premium is good whisky. I am not a fan of plastic bottles either. It creates the wrong image. Merry Christmas.
      Davin

  7. Sean:

    By far my favourite Canadian Whiskey.

  8. Glen:

    I’m a big fan of Alberta Springs. I also like Tangle Ridge for a change. I’m wondering why there is no XO version of either of these. I’ve had Gibsons and Wisers 18yo. and they are very good, but I have to wonder how much better Alberta Springs would be if allowed to mature that long…

    • Davin:

      Things like this do come along every now and then. There was a 25 year old version of Alberta Springs a while back, but it’s long gone now. The next big thing will be the 30 year old Alberta Premium from Alberta Distillers coming late spring or early summer.

  9. Lou:

    I had discovered Alberta Springs10 yr old a few years ago and suddenly it is no longer available at the LCBO in Eastern ON. Where can I find some?!?!?!

  10. Drew:

    Hi Davin,

    This review drew me to your site. Thank you.

    I am surprised however to see that a Canadian whisky aficionado like yourself doesn’t have a review up for Glen Breton Rare 10. It’s distilled in Nova Scotia and bills itself as North America’s first single malt. I recently got my hands on a bottle and found it to be a fine contribution to Canada’s whisky identity – but I’m no expert.

    • Davin:

      Hi Drew,
      Thanks for your comment. What a coincidence. I have 9 different Glen Breton versions open and am tasting them in various combinations. Look for a review of Battle of the Glen, my favourite, in the not too distant future.
      Davin

      • Drew:

        Thanks Davin,

        That’s great news. I haven’t explored beyond the 10yo expression which I enjoyed. I was disappointed when I heard that Glenora Distillers contracts the malting process to an outside source instead of doing it themselves, but truth be told, outside of Nova Scotia it can be hard to find.

  11. Derek Bracken:

    Bought a 375ml of Alberta Springs,best whisky I ever had,sweet as a nut !!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Chris Brown:

    Have only recently jumped on the AS 10 train but really a lovely sipping whisky and well deserving of it’s award,especially at this price.
    What I wouldn’t give for a higher proof -or heaven help us ;) a cask strength of this, my mouth waters at the thought!

    I have dreams of visiting the distillery to find special bottlings for sale. Why not I ask? It’s done to great effect elsewhere….

  13. Phyllis Denison:

    Just was given a bottle of Alberta Springs Canadian Sipping Whisky in the box, unopened, tax dated 1980.
    Any idea of worth – plan to open it with Canadian Friends Mar. 28!

    • Davin:

      It’s not collectible so not worth much money. Go head and open it and enjoy. By the way it is made from 100% rye grain.

  14. Diana Hamilton:

    How do I find out where Alberta Springs Rye Whisky is sold at in Iowa? My grandfather used to drink it and now my brother would like to try some but have been unsuccessful at acquiring a bottle.

    • Davin:

      As far as I know distribution is limited to Canada.

      • portwood:

        Also available in the USA, re-labled by various independent bottlers pretending to be distillers.

        • portwood:

          Forgot to mention that the US bottlers do add “value” by NOT adding as much water as the Canadian producer.

  15. It’s a very smooth whisky. I’m usually not a fan of Canadian whiskies, but this one surprised me.

  16. A lot of people are talking about this, I had to return a bottle of Forty Creek 375ml in a plastic bottle to the LCBO because it had a foul plastic taste. PEOPLE! THE LCBO TAKES RETURNS ON DEFECTS! Even if it’s open.

    At the same time I bought a 375ml plastic bottle of Alberta Premium, while I don’t normally like Rye… this rye seems like it has the potential to be great when aged nicely… I think I will try Alberta Springs! 5 more years in Oak should do it nicely…

  17. MORTEQUI:

    I am 55 years old and have been drinking whisky of one form or another since I was 10 (moonshining family). I discovered Alberta Springs Canadian Sippin Whisky back in the early 80′s and loved it. The only commercial whisky at the time to still use a cork stopper. It came in a wood box the bottle was filled with that at the time rivaled Jack Daniels in my opinion. I just wish we could still get it here in the states. I thank you for the memories though. GOOOOOD WHISKY!!!

    Sincerly: MORTEQUI Fairborn, Ohio USA

    • Jim D.:

      From N.E. lower Mich. Introduced to Albera Springs a number of years ago. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law and I all enjoyed it. Had been away from it for years…..Mid July took a trip with my son and his wife to WaWa, Ont. Found some Alberta Springs…..Wow had really forgot how good it was….son and daughter-in-law were really impressed too….had to buy more before returning….Keep up the good work.

      • Davin:

        Glad you like it Jim; I do too.

  18. gary w.:

    a shame such a quality product is ruined by cheep plastic.
    i will not buy this whisky agin.

    gary w. ok.city ok.

    • Davin:

      Hi Gary,
      I am not a fan of plastic either. However, some distributors and some retailers demand it. Why? Because it cuts the weight of a case of whisky in half and so helps prevent staff from hurting their backs. This is particularly true of the best selling whiskies where they are slugging a lot of cases around. I agree though, it looks and feels cheap.

  19. [...] a hefty three ouncer, like my favorite on the BHCB list, The Hornet’s Nest Reposado Tequila Rye Punt e Mes [...]

  20. CBrown:

    I have to say, that after being turned on to AS 10 about a year ago here that it’s become my Canadian Makers Mark.

    Not in style, but just a great house whisky for every day sipping.

  21. Chris:

    I LOVED this stuff, however due to “low sales” it is no longer available to us here in Nova Scotia. I would surely pay a little extra to have some bottles of it to keep for special occasions, but no one will import it for me.

    I guess it’s back to the Collingwood for me.

  22. Rob:

    I loved this stuff when I lived in Nova Scotia 3yrs ago, but I moved back to Australia and am having a lot of problems finding how I can import some here, as I realy miss the taste of it. How can I get hold of a few 26oz bottles?

    • Davin:

      Hi Rob, Maybe get one of your friends in Nova Scotia to help you. As far as I know, Alberta Springs is only available in Canada. Retail shops are not allowed to sell by mail so you really need a personal contact. And remember, shipping from Canada by mail or courier is prohibited. It really is not easy.

  23. Bill:

    Has become my brand of choice. Is Alberta Springs gluten free?

    • Davin:

      Hi Bill, Yes, I love Alberta Springs also. I am not a physician or nutritionist so I cannot advise you on whether or not the whisky has gluten in it. You are better to ask a professional if your health is at risk.

  24. dale kennedy:

    a great drink

  25. good times with this drink

  26. Laura:

    Hello, I am looking for glassware with Alberta Springs on it, my husband only drinks Alberta Springs and would love a nice thick tumbler. Any suggestions……..
    Thx,
    Laura

    • Davin:

      Your best bet is probably e-Bay. Good luck. I think they made them at one time so there may be a few out there.

  27. where can I buy in Va. 804-525-0419

  28. Antonio vasquez:

    Where can I buy in louisiana

    • Davin:

      As far as i know it is available in Canada only.
      Sorry – it’s great whisky.

  29. Tim:

    most have been over twenty years since I have been able to find the original alberta springs sipping whiskey it was a light colored whiskey it came in glass bottle about a quart in a wooded box and had a cork instead of a cap do they make it anymore it was a smooth whiskey

  30. Tim:

    I just read Mortique comments he’s talking about the same whiskey it was a smooth whiskey. Can you get it in mn or do you even still have it in Canada? Just a quick trip cross the border be worth it!

    • Davin:

      The packaging has changed, but it is still the same whisky.

    • Davin:

      As far as I know it is only available in Canada

  31. Ronnie W.:

    I like the fact that Alberta Springs states its age, ten years! Few other brands dare mention their age. But long storage within plastic packaging could never be deemed a problem (or possibility) at our house… Now for the heresy; as much as I love the smoothness of Alberta Springs as it is, after my initial pourings, I add back into my 1.75L bottle, two ounces of a quality Bourbon, shake this well and allow it to settle. There is a burst of grain sweetness that occurs that rivals even those ultra priced Canadian whiskies. Have been doing this for years.

    • Davin:

      You have discovered something that I have often said: a little bit of corn really boosts the flavour and mouthfeel of rye. Good palate!

  32. Paul:

    This is the second time I’ve tried Alberta Springs 10, and I think that so far I prefer it to the whiskeys being made in Ontario these days. You can taste the rye for sure and the whiskey as a whole is quite clean and focused. Being a Bourbon fan, I would perhaps have liked some more barrel character to come through. They should ditch the tacky plastic screw cap and put a proper cork on this. But otherwise, one of Canada’s best.

    • Ronnie W.:

      Well Paul, my preference and suggestion of adding a small quantity of a quality bourbon really enhances the final beverage, which of course is the objective. As I so adjust and use Alberta Springs to prepare my Manhattans, I also add a quarter teaspoon of Almond extract to my bottle of Vermouth. This adds the traditional flavour of the called-for cherry without actually using one (or two), which not only consume space in my glass but contain additional calories. The end shall justify the means

  33. Kelly:

    Alberta Springs is THE best whiskey I have tasted. We (my husband and I) have been a fan of this whiskey for about 8 years now, however, we live in Nova Scotia and cannot buy it here for the last couple of years. We have to get family and friends to purchase it for us out of province. A big pain!!!
    We really enjoy a nice drink every evening, and would love to see it back in our province again.

  34. Nina:

    Hello
    How can we acquire empty whiskey barrels?

    • Davin:

      Sorry, Nina, I do not know.

      • Ronnie W.:

        A hint for we Manhattan aficionados. I spoke of adding some quality bourbon to the Alberta Springs to create a sweeter grain taste. I recently found bourbon called Red Stag by Jim Beam, which has been flavoured with Black Cherry. A good product on it’s own but by adding this to my Albert Springs my Manhattans then have a consistent and delicious cherry flavour from within.

  35. steve fuller:

    I love whisky’s! A Lot of them. Prefer 10 years and up. Scotch. Irish. Canadian. Bourbon. I do know the difference between a “rye” and “corn” whisky’s. I like to keep a nice variety but have become partial to ALBERTA SPRINGS! Is it 100% rye whisky as I notice on the label of ALBERTA PREMIUM? Another fine sip!

  36. Kenneth Lindqvist:

    Hello, I love whisky’s and whiskey’s,(I am from Sweden).
    When I wisit Canada they ask if I want a”Scotch”,”Boubon” or “Rye” whisky, but that is not so simple, you have to to ask what type. You must learn more about whisky so you can enjoy drinking whisky’s.
    Alberta Springs 10y i think is the best.
    / Kenneth

  37. Robert Wilson:

    I’m displeased with Alberta Springs 26ouncers & 40 ouncers they are not filling them up. I feel that I;m getting ripped off. As a paying consumer I think this should come to your attention, If you do not apply to this my hole family will stop buying your products. Thank You Robert Wilson.

    • Davin:

      The filling machine dispenses exactly 26 oz or 40 oz so the level in the bottle can be deceiving.

      • Ronnie W.:

        Thanks for the bottle filling information. I was always of the understanding that the filling machine filled to a given level. I notice that these days the 1.75L plastic bottle is filled almost up to the cap whereas some time ago it was somewhat lower.

  38. Pam:

    If you can’t get Alberta Springs, what’s an equivalent substitute.. ie.. we live in NB..
    :-)

    • Davin:

      Hmmmm . . . that’s a tough one. Not sure there is anything closely like it. Maybe Forty Creek Barrel Select but it’s quite a bit fruitier.

  39. Pam:

    thanks! I’ll try it! :-)


Leave a Reply