Canadian Rye Head to Head: Whistle Pig 10 vs Alberta Rye Dark Batch

Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey 100% Rye 100 Proof vs Alberta Rye Whisky Dark Batch Canadian Blended Rye Whisky 90 Proof

Ok… I think if you are reading this blog you probably know by now that Whistle Pig is a sourced Rye from Canada, and almost certainly from Alberta Distillers Ltd.  Whistle Pig wins award after award, and their product is quite good, but the whole folksy Vermont thing is just a sham.  I’ve never cared about whether you make it yourself or just blend/finish and bottle it: I just judge the smell, taste and how it makes me feel.  I was also curious about the fairly new product from Canada, the Alberta Rye Whisky Dark Batch.  Their mashbill starts with two rye whiskies making up 91% blended with 8% bourbon (Old Grand-Dad) and 1% sherry wine.  Instead of doing two different tastings, I thought I would put these two brothers head to head in a classic Biblical style battle.

The colors… Whistle Pig has a light amber while the Alberta Dark Rye has a medium/dark amber color.

On the nose… Whistle Pig has the classic rye nose with some hints of vanilla, light butterscotch.  Alberta Dark Batch is not just rye, but caramel and incredibly sweet notes of a penny candy shop.  Maple syrup candy and molasses pop out on the second whiff.

Whistle Pig has a light and brisk palate, quick up front and finishes smoothly  The vanilla and butterscotch are confirmed on the palate, with a touch of anise.  It’s a clean and enjoyable, with a heat that warms like a cashmere blanket.  Dark Batch conversely has a heavy, weighty palate, soaks the mouth completely, envelops everything and the finish is goes on and on.  Massively different palates, yet both bring a smile to my face.

Although from the same home, these are massively different whiskeys, completely different nose, flavor and weight.  Not twins, not even brothers, you can’t even call these distant cousins.  But they both are very good in their own way.  I enjoy Whistle Pig slightly more and as a Straight Rye, it’s very solid.  The Vermont thing aside, they sell a very impressive product.  The ADL Dark Batch is also very good, and what it has on it’s side is it costs 1/3 the price.  Value can not be ignored.  You can’t go wrong with either one.  I was secretly hoping that they would taste identical and that I would have discovered a 1/3 priced Whistle Pig, but what I found instead was something completely different and yet extremely enjoyable.

Just tying in my piece from last night, it goes to show you how important the blending function is at a distillery.  Here are two whiskeys from the same distillery, same mash bill (before the blending), although different aging.  Because of the decisions and skills of the blender, they both end up as very good whiskeys but with completely different profiles reflecting their vision.

Alberta Rye Whiskey Dark Batch: 90/100

Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey 10 Years: 91/100

PS… if anyone has a suggestion on where to find ADL aged rye without any neutral grain spirit added, please let me know.  Thanks!



3 thoughts on “Canadian Rye Head to Head: Whistle Pig 10 vs Alberta Rye Dark Batch

  1. Nice review! Whistle Pig is tasty stuff, but man has it gotten pricy. I remember when it was under $60. Just got a sample of Dark Batch. So curious to try it! It’s got good buzz.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an Albertan, I’m a bit biased but ADL is a fantastic distillery that makes excellent whiskies that are always great value. (My only ADL complaint would be that nothing ever seems to be released at higher than 40% abv.) What you get as Alberta Rye Dark Batch is marketed as Alberta Premium Dark Horse up here. Same bottle and same ratios of rye bourbon and sherry, different label… Delicious whisky that Costs about $26 CDN. Alberta Springs is another ADL gem that we can get for about $24. My favourites, however, are Alberta Premium 100% rye whiskies, which must be the same stocks used for Whistlepig. The standard 8yr is good but there was. 30yr released a couple of years ago that was unbelievable – I was lucky enough to get my hands on a couple bottles ($55 CDN!) and still have one left unopened.

    I’m not trying to brag about the prices we enjoy up here, just illustrating how crazy it is that a 30yr old whisky sells up here for about half, or less with the current exchange, of what Whistlepig is asking for a 10yr version of the same stuff. Crazy!


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