Alberta Distillers Dark Horse Review

Critique en Français plus bas.


Alberta Distillers Limited Dark Horse

45% ABV

Score: 81/100


As the weather gets hotter I reach for a less heavy and complex whisky,  I know it’s trite and often repeated , peated Scotch is more of a winter thing, I don’t think it’s a strict rule but let’s say it’s not the first thing I reach for when it’s sweltering.


Besides in the summer I like to play it fast and loose, I’ll take my whisky with ice and a little soda or make myself free form Americano or Boulevardier-like constructions. This often brings me back to my first love Canadian whisky and much like hooking up with an old flame. It can be a nostalgic and comfortable hook-up that reminds you of the good times or it can go in the other direction. You want to show all the ways in which you’ve evolved and grown up, that you’re a different person but inevitably things just aren’t the same.

Canadian Club Sherry Cask -002-500x500


Both those things have happened to me with our beloved Canadian whisky, God how I loved Canadian club, sherry cask (the old tall clear bottle version) or the 20yr old.  Those great spicy Wiser’s ryes, especially that small batch that was one of the first Canadian whisky’s I had that was a higher abv than 40%, or most Forty Creek releases.

Sadly it has been a while since I can really appreciate them with the same fervour as the most recent Springbank 12 CS for example. I had to take a third approach to realize that it’s neither the frozen good memories nor something you can take your new bag of tricks to. You must humble yourself to see take it as a new thing, it took the heat and my disgust after moving, where all I wanted was a drink and I applied ice and ADL’s Dark Horse to nurse my frustration and fell in love all over again.


Nose: Maple sap and that sweet/fermented mash note you find in some American whiskies on the arrival. Caraway bumping into baking spices, slight solvent notes, toffee apples, slightly grassy and a little green.

Palate: Those rye spices kick out the jams right away, into oaky vanilla, and hot peppers. It has a creamy mouth-feel with a nice bite of sherry astringency. It has an instantly recognizable rye palate that is somewhat tempered by the corn sweetness and dried fruit.

The finish is a bit of a lemon pith and charred wood, with that pickle and cinnamon candy thing that only Canadian rye whisky will do.

Today’s subject is one such perhaps one of the more controversial releases in that it uses the Canadian whisky regulation loopholes that allow a low percentage of additives, something which I have read, is not really done anymore.  Some consider it cheating a sherry finish others think it’s just damn fine stuff you be the judge. It is made from a combination of Column and pot still rye whisky like only ADL can produce and then hit with 8% old grand dad bourbon (from the Suntory Beam rainbow connection) and 1% sherry all this bottled at a daring Canadian 45%.

I believe it will appeal to those who enjoy American whisky and it’s big in your face punch of flavours, it works in drink and a great sipper while shooting the shit with friends and at a price that won’t break the bank .

adl at night devon mackay



* ADLphoto credits day : Globe and mail at night: Devon Mackay


Alberta Distillers Limited Dark Horse

45% Alc/Vol

Évaluation: 83/100


Lorsque le mercure grimpe je me tourne souvent vers du whisky un peu moins lourd et complexe. Je ne vais pas répéter les platitudes sur le whisky tourbé étant une boisson d’hiver. Je ne crois pas que c’est une règle inviolable, ceci dit il est vrai que lors d’une canicule je ne me taperais pas du  Ardbeg.

De toute façon durant l’été je n’aime pas me cassé la tête et je bois souvent mon un whisky bon marché avec une de la glace, un peu de soda ou je m’improvise un apéro sur le style d’un Americano ou Boulevardier. Ça me rappelle un de mes premiers amours, le whisky Canadian et souvent lorsque l’on reprend avec une ancienne blonde il peut nous arriver deux choses. On peut rester pris dans le mode nostalgie en se rappelant que le bon vieux temps ou on peut réaliser qu’on n’est plus la même personne et que les choses on changées.


Ces deux scenarios ce sont passé avec mon Whisky Canadien bien aimé. J’ai tellement adoré le Canadian Club sherry Cask (l’ancienne version dans la grande bouteille) ou le CC 20 ans. Le rye de Wiser’s surtout le « small batch » qui a été un des premiers whiskys Canadien à plus de 40% alcool que j’ai goutté et que dire des divers parutions de Forty Creek.

Tristement il y un bail que je ne les apprécie plus avec autant de ferveur que le plus récent Springbank 12 CS. Il m’a fallu une troisième approche afin de réaliser ce que j’aimais tant du profil du whisky Canadien.  Le jour suivant mon déménagement, j’appréhendais le fouillis de mes boites et j’avais besoin d’un « drink » et  il fallait que ça soit simple. Une mesure de ADL Dark Horse et 2 glaçons et je suis retombé en amour.


Nez: Sève d’érable et ce côté sucré et fermenté qu’on retrouve dans certain whisky Américain. Carvi et épices de Noël se bouscule, légère note d’acétone, caramel mou, pommes et un côté vert un peu farine de seigle.

Bouche : La savate des épices est la première chose qu’on rencontre, vanille, chêne et piment fort. La texture est crémeuse mais fini avec un peu d’astringence du xérès. On reconnait immédiatement la bouche d’un rye whisky qui est adouci pour le maïs et les fruits secs.

La finale tire sur l’astringence de la moelle d’un citron/pamplemousse ainsi que cette drôle de combinaison de cornichons et bonbons à la cannelle que seuls les ryes Canadiens ont.


Ce whisky n’est pas sans controverses, puisqu’il utilise 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 considèrent que c’est quand même de la triche ou que cela ne fait que maintenir cette mauvaise perception de notre jus Canadien.  Je vous laisse juger de par vous-même. C’est un assemblage de rye distillé en alambics classiques et continue auquel est ajouté 8% de bourbon old grand dad (de leur connexion à Beam Suntory) et 1% de xérès.

Je crois que son côté assez brut et intense plaira aux amateurs de whisky Américain, c’est un whisky franc à un prix qui l’est tout autant, parfait pour boire lorsque l’on fait la jasette sur le deck.



Benriach, Solstice, Albariza, Dunder & Sauternes quick reviews

Ok I’ve been away far too long faithful reader, outside of our club meetings I haven’t been indulging much . I did have 2 fabulous tasting sessions, in the last few weeks one with fellow Connosr member Robert99 another was an SAQ shindig. These being less reviews per se than just quick impressions. The first was another great SAQ in store tasting for BenRiach this one led by their rep Alasdair Stevenson.

It managed to snag a reservation through their lottery system, I haven’t tasted many BenRiach’s being more familiar with the groups other distillery Glendronach, I figured this was a good way to take the plunge.



First off hats off to Alasdair, he did two of these back to back and facing a the crowd wasn’t exactly “switched on”. Still fun and by the end people were a little more loose.

Our flight started with the the 15 year old Sauternes finish.  This is 11 year old bourbon matured spirit that then gets an additional 4 years in Sauternes casks.  This one is entirely dominated by the French oak and sweetness of Sauternes. Sweet shop,  tinned apricot and peaches, spicy and ginger.  That dark bright acidity that you get from Glenlivet 15 or Oak Cross.  I found it interesting at first but very tiring after a while, it loses the malt backbone.

Next was one of the releases from the Peated 18 range, the one with the cute names.  “Dunder”  was finished 1 year in Jamaïcan rum barrels.  The peat levels on this one are intense, instantly you are hit with a wave of new vinyl/ burnt plastic.  Almost Talisker like smoke and pepper, some caramel a little orchard fruits.  This one is pretty closed up, a slight molasses metallic tang did not feel as well integrated on the palate.

Solstice 17, Port cask matured and this one really knocked my socks off.  It’s @ 50%abv but so smooth.  Nose is light smoke,  dark fruits jammy.  The palate offers up so much more than anticipated by the nose, very well integrated and not overwhelmed with sweetness or tannin.


Last was the companion bottling to the “Dunder” an 18 year old called “Albariza”, big peat meets all the goodness of a Sherry bomb. Intense nose, damp earth, ash & creosote, then a really nice  burst of quality sherry not just a finish, dried dark fruits and leather. The palate is just rocking, rich confit prunes and raisins , a big meaty like some of the heavy peated Islay’s , then that peat smoke hits you. I would compare it to Bowmore Laimrig, this is big stuff, not much sulphur or rubber which is nice.  No wonder this thing sold out that evening it was just a stupendous bottling but way out of my range at 178$

The Solstice and Albariza we’re the clear winners for me, the prices we’re high but in the case of the latter especially the quality is way up there.


It was confirmed by Alasdair at the meeting that the SAQ has agreed to purchase the newly released BenRiach Cask strength. I am looking forward to trying that and hoping we will also  get some of that newly released peated quarter cask.



AnCnoc 12 / About the birds and the bees

AnCnoc 12 

40% Alc/Vol



bird bees

Ok let’s start by saying I will not be referring to any lighter style/floral scotch with the prefix “lady” and yes I know there difference between men and women but I wouldn’t call all women rather delicate flowers either, not for fear of backlash but because it’s trite and frankly just so ridiculous.


Nose: Malty, golden delicious apples, slightly sour honey/mead, there is also a delicate floral nectar side, orange blossom and seabuckthorn. It’s all fairly subtle, there is a touch of white wine on the nose (the first time it made me think of vinho verde). Despite the lightness the nose if very different, kind of heady, in time you get touches of blond tobacco and white pepper.



Palate: Warm, spicy and sweet. It’s got a good malty and creamy body, cookie dough, malt biscuits, milk chocolate & corn flakes. Then ginger both fresh and a bit of pickled, honey a touch of wax and vanilla.

The finish is rather short and the mouth while round is not very fat, the biggest deception is the palate that loses all the promise of the nose, none of those tobacco and pepper and super weird fruity flavors really come to the fore.

I really want to dig this whisky, I never dislike it when I have a dram  but believe that overall there isn’t one aspect that grabs my attention enough. Perhaps a good place to start someone who has only encountered harsh blends. That said it doesn’t turn me off trying other expressions from the same producer. I am very intrigued by their vintage range, same goes with the peated ones that seems to be getting quite a lot of attention.



*Birds and bees illustration by Tom Lindsay.