Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Only in Canada: Gibson's Finest Rare & Alberta Premium Dark Horse
While the US gets more Canadian Whiskey than it used to, there are tons of well respected Canadians that still never make it down south. Today, I will review two Canadian blends that are only available in Canada (though one is now in the US under a different name).
Gibson's Finest Rare, 18 yo, 40% abv ($65 Canadian)
A former American brand that moved north during prohibition, Gibson's is currently owned by William Grant and distilled at Hiram Walker. The older Gibson's expressions, like this one, were distilled at an old Schenley distillery in Quebec.
The nose is very light with green grapes and rubbing alcohol. On the palate, it is quite light and sweet with strong alcohol notes. The finish is short and a bit medicinal with a touch of anise. Yuck! It's light and alcoholy and just unpleasant. Too bad, as I had heard a lot of good things about it and was really looking forward to trying it.
Alberta Premium Dark Horse, 45% abv ($30 Canadian)
Beam Suntory's Alberta Distillers is one of the most well regarded distilleries in Canada. Aside from being responsible for most of the Canadian straight rye that makes it to the US (WhistlePig, Masterson's, Jefferson's, etc.), they make a Canada-only line of blended whiskeys under the Alberta Premium label.
Dark Horse is a blend of a 12 year old high proof rye (i.e., the base whiskey), a six year old lower proof rye (the flavor whiskey), 8% bourbon (Old Grand-Dad) and a small measure of sherry. While Dark Horse is not available in the US, Beam recently introduced a whiskey called Alberta Rye Dark Batch to the US market which appears to be the same stuff.
The nose is fruity, and the palate, at first taste, is light and fruity. Light wine notes emerge in the middle and then a strong grain whiskey profile dominates the later palate and finish. It's not terrible, but very grainy; more of a light horse, if you ask me.
I have to say, every time I taste one of these well regarded Candian blends, I feel disappointed. The light, grainy notes that seem to characterize them just aren't my cup of tea.