Barrel 131 a.k.a: Albourbon
GrainHenge released a third whisky in partnership with Wine and Beyond on October 22, 2022. Ryan Engen, Director of Spirits for Alcanna, selected this barrel to be released exclusively at Wine and Beyond stores in Alberta.
The flavor profile of this latest release is sweet and spicy, with aromas of caramel corn candy and brown sugar. In the flavor profile, you can definitely taste the bourbon influence with the high corn and rye content. So, is this a new kind of whisky? I met one of the creators of GrainHenge, Charlie Bredo, before the release of their first whisky, Meeting Creek. He joked about making a new whisky he called “Albourbon.” I laughed. A couple years later, here it is! An Albertan, Bourbon-style Canadian Whisky, rightfully coined here as, “Albourbon”.
So, what’s bourbon and why can’t Alliance whisky be classified a bourbon?
Whisk(e)y is the parent-product, meaning it is a spirit made from fermented grains that must be aged in a wooden vessel, namely oak. In Canada, to be considered whisky, the grain spirit must be aged for a minimum of three years. Whisky has many variations, including the spelling, depending on the country of origin.
Bourbon is a type of whisk(e)y, which has certain legalities to earn that name:
- The term bourbon is exclusively American and the spirit must be produced in the United States. The spelling whiskey is also used rather than whisky here in Canada.
- The mash (which is a mixture of fermentable grains) must include a minimum of 51% corn.
- Spirits must be aged in a new, charred oak barrel.
- The whiskey cannot enter the barrel at higher than 125 proof (62.5% abv).
- Nothing can be added but water and only to lessen the proof when necessary – meaning no additives such as caramel for colour.
For a bourbon lover, Alliance checks a lot of boxes in terms of what a true patron is in search of. Alliance has been aged 37 months and runs in as a high corn, single barrel, cask strength, small batch whisky. Seriously, as a bourbon lover, isn’t this just tickling the fancy of all those who look for those specifics?
A high corn mash bill in bourbon terms generally refers to a recipe that uses over 70% corn. Alliance uses 72% corn, 17% rye malt, and 11% barley malt. It is also a small batch, cask strength (56.6%), single barrel whisky. This means that it has been bottled with whisky from only one barrel (barrel 131, to be specific), it is not cut with water, and there is a limited amount of it available (232 bottles, to be exact). This mash bill is very similar to those of very popular American bourbon brands such as Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, which use 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley.
I highly recommend trying this “Albourbon” if you’re a bourbon lover or if you’re interested in a sweet and spicy Canadian craft whisky. You’ll have to act fast, though, because something this good doesn’t last long on the shelves! Available exclusively from Wine and Beyond stores.
Author: Whisky Femme