Last week, on a bluebird sky day in the town of Turney Valley, Alberta’s first craft distillery, Eau Claire, launched its first, limited edition release of Single Malt Whisky. They call it “farm to glass” whisky and say that it encapsulates the best of Alberta – blue skies, mountain fresh water, malted barley and entrepreneurial spirit. Indeed, they grow their own barley and harvest it with draft horses just a few miles from the distillery. They also use crystal clear waters from the Rocky Mountains and it has taken an amazing entrepreneurial spirit and fortitude to bring this accomplishment to pass.
The rewards? Eau Claire has achieved international recognition for their premium spirits and the Single Malt Whisky was so highly anticipated that their first release of 1,000 bottles has already sold out.
I had the chance to attend the release and enjoyed their small parade led by piper Fraser Abbott and Eau Claire’s Draft Horses pulling a carriage laden with beautifully bottled whisky. It was historic because this is the first single malt whisky produced in Alberta in modern times. There are now at least a dozen craft distillers in the province but Eau Claire has claimed this first.
“This limited release is a Christmas present to all of our incredible supporters who have joined us in the journey to produce a truly, Alberta-made premium, single malt whisky. We have taken no shortcuts in this process and are confident that this first, limited edition whisky will make Albertans proud.” said Eau Claire Distillery President and Founder, David Farran. Master Distiller, Larry Kerwin, added, “We are thrilled with the quality and taste of our first release. It has the complexity, flavour notes and finish of a whisky far more senior than its years. It has fruity notes, spice and a subtle influence of sherry casks in a smooth, approachable character.”
I was very happy to be in attendance and managed to secure a few bottles that will make some friends very happy this Christmas. For those looking for a smokey, heavy peat flavoured whisky, this is not for you. Caitlyn Quin, the Scottish-born Master Distiller who collaborates with Kerwin and leads the day-to-day operations favours European oak casks and the whisky is soft, well-rounded and rather feminine. I can’t wait to see how she ages.
If you missed out on this release but would like to know what the future holds for this world-class distiller, be sure to sign up for their cask club. Here’s a few more photos of this fun experience that I hope becomes an annual tradition.