Masterson’s 10yo Rye Review

Whiskey Name: Masterson’s 10yo Rye

Distillery: Alberta

Whiskey Type: Straight rye

Release Date: General

Price: £70

Age: 10 years

ABV: 45%

Mashbill: 100% rye


Introduction/Background: Another instance of Canadian rye from the excellent Alberta distillery hiding in a US bottle. This one bears the legend of ‘Gambler, buffalo hunter, Army scout, gunfighter and newspaper man’ William ‘Bat’ Masterson. ‘Newspaper man’ seems a bit random tacked on to the end of all that. You don’t see many Guardian columnists charging around brandishing rifles and taking out buffalo.

As is standard for these sorts of bottlings, great care has been taken to hide the fact that it came from Canada. For legal reasons it is on the label – clearly stated on the back in size 0.0001 font, underneath the blurb about small batches, artisans, and glacial water from the Northern Rockies. Possibly I go on about the Canada thing too often, but given BBS has just bottled a Canada-distilled rye ourselves, I feel it’s valid. Canada makes awesome rye. People should be proud to bottle it, and excited to hear about it.

Anyhow, the age statement and distillery put Masterson’s in direct competition with Whistlepig and Jefferson’s 10. It costs about the same as the former, for 5% less booze.

Appearance: Copper

Nose: Yep, that’s rye! Earth and grain-forward; less overt oak than Whistlepig 10, more about the rye than the barrel. Rye grass, leather and tobacco. Kept balanced by sweeter aspects of vanilla and coconut, whilst sharper grapefruit, cut grass and mixed herbs provide lift. Smatter of pine too. Medium intensity.

Mouth: The earthiness continues, but here is more peppery. Also more floral; white flowers and cherry blossom. Fennel grows in the glass, beside an array of coffee, ginger, raspberry, and cereal flavours. The whole thing is bound together by light citrus syrup. Quite lean in body; alcohol does poke through.

Finish: Dries significantly into a soily, dusty, cigar tobacco and more of that rye grass.

Value for Money: Price is a little high, I think.

Summary: I do like Masterson’s 10. It’s very complex, and there are some brilliant rye notes in it. It certainly occupies a different space of the flavour map to Whistlepig and Jefferson’s – and indeed to the bottlings Alberta produce themselves.

It isn’t without flaws. At times it seems a little too overwhelmingly earthy and drying. Despite the lowish proof, flavours struggle to contain the alcohol at times; often an issue with Alberta I find, as it does tend to be lean in body. The oils, perhaps, have been too broken up; ironically it might hold its alcohol better if it were at a higher proof. But that’s just a thought.

On the whole though, a very tasty experience, if rather ambitiously priced. But that’s aged rye for you; not much about, and what there is doesn’t come cheap. It makes me wish Alberta bottled their own proprietary 10 year old. Now that’d make for some interesting comparisons.

Overall Verdict: Very decent rye, well worth trying.