Sipp’n Corn Review – Alberta Premium Dark Horse (“Dark Batch” in U.S.)

Thanks to some friends north of the border, I was able to get a bottle of two Canadian Whiskies, one of which is only available in Canada (Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye Whisky), and Alberta Premium Dark Horse Canadian Whisky, which was released this past spring in the U.S., but called “Dark Batch.”
Some people have wondered why the name “Dark Horse” would be abandoned in this land where horses are featured on so many whiskey labels.  The answer probably involves the new craft distillery in Kansas, Dark Horse Distillery (, or maybe the existence of the Dark Horse Wines in Modesto, California, or perhaps Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall, Michigan.  Either way, it’s “Dark Batch” to those in the U.S.
Dark Horse is a bit hard to explain, even before getting to tasting notes, so maybe this table describing its four components will help:
100% Rye Whisky distilled in a pot still, aged 6 years in new #4 char American Oak barrels
100% Rye Whisky distilled in a column still, aged 12 years in used Bourbon barrels
Old Grand-Dad Bourbon (age and proof undisclosed, though)
Oloroso Sherry
Dark Horse hasn’t followed the trend of finishing barrels, and instead it goes right to blending in a small percentage of fortified wine.  As you might imagine, even at 1%, the Sherry notes are much stronger than merely being Sherry finished.
Alberta Premium Dark Horse Canadian Whisky
Alberta Distillers, Ltd.
Undisclosed on label
Beam Suntory
90 proof
$29.99  – $34.99 locally for U.S. version
Tasting Notes
As the name suggests, it’s dark, but it still hangs on to a glint of amber and reddish tones.  It looks darker in the bottle because (at least the Canadian version) uses the Stagg Jr. trick of a big black back label.
The nose was more herbal than I expected, along with sugary-syrupy sweetness, honey, dark fruit, pine nuts, and dark, earthy aromas.  But there’s more than just that; there’s enough going on that I found new scents on each re-taste (cinnamon, clove, furniture polish), and I expect to find more every time that I go back to it.  I’m not exactly sure that I like the roller coaster ride, however.
This is complex and coating:  root beer immediately, and then honey, vanilla, cherry syrup, and rounded out with coffee, oak and smokiness.  The Sherry is prominent, and sometimes it’s tough to grasp.  Some of the favors complement each other, but others compete.  It never quite hooked me.
Peppery but sweet flavors linger and fade softly for a moderate finish.
Bottom Line
I enjoy my whiskey neat, or sometimes on ice, but that’s not where Dark Horse necessarily shines.  In fact, it’s a little puzzling neat.  I’m also puzzled in trying to decide whether to give bonus points for innovation and originality, or deduct points for blending scraps together.  Dark Horse grew on me through my initial course of tastings, but after later tastings Im pretty much done with it.
I’m perfectly pleased to have this bottle as a gift, but glad that I did not buy it.  I’ll be experimenting with cocktail recipes, hoping that the rye shines through.  I won’t go back to it neat right away, but I will eventually.  As perhaps the true test, I don’t really think that I will replace my bottle when it’s gone.
Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale: 2.5
The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Wouldn’t even accept a free drink of it.
2 – Would gladly drink it if someone else was buying.
3 – Glad to include this in my bar.
4 – Excellent Bourbon and even worth its high price.
5 – Wow.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.

8 Comments on “Sipp’n Corn Review – Alberta Premium Dark Horse (“Dark Batch” in U.S.)

  1. Cruising the internet, came across your site. Great site, enjoyed the read, probably not as much as you enjoyed the sampling prior to writing the post. Will back to see more.


  2. Thanks for reading! Some reviews are more enjoyable than others, of course. The jury might still be out on this one for me. At another reader's suggestion, I decanted a blend of Dark Horse with Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond (equal parts). I'm letting it rest, and will report back on the post.


  3. Hi I found your site by mistake when i was searching yahoo for this acne issue, I must say your site is really helpful I also love the design, its amazing!. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site. wordpress web


  4. bought a few bottles in 2015 and quite enjoyed the unique taste. Was given a bottle as a gift in 2016 and can't figure out what has changed. Looks good, smells great, tastes mouldy!! Tried adding lime with soda water, lime , still mouldy. This bottle is going to last me a long time


  5. Absolutely agree bought one around the same time (2016) and there was an unmistakable moldy taste. Thought it was just my palette and a bad reaction to the whiskey blended with sherry, but it never left the bottle even after letting it breathe and persisted through mixing and regardless of what is was paired with


  6. Interesting and disturbing. I know that for Beam's US products they keep an inventory that can be checked for circumstances like this, and hopefully the same is true for Candadian brands. I wouldn't hesitate to inquire with the brand. Good luck!


  7. Anyone knows which Canadian whisky has the nose and taste similar to a good Spey Side Scotch ?. (Sweet, Fruity, smooth for sipping neat). Thanks, please recommend.


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