Sunday, August 23, 2015

Eau Claire Distillery - Alberta's First Craft Distillery

Anita and I were looking for something different to experience this weekend, so we rounded up Amy and headed south to Turner Valley to take a tour and tasting of Alberta's first craft distillery, Eau Claire Distillery. Their Parlour Gin is pretty damn amazing! Smooth with a rich nose of juniper, coriander, and aromatics from other regional botanicals like rosehips and saskatoon berries, I could see us drinking ourselves silly way too easily. Taken straight, it was pleasant to sip, but paired with a splash of tonic, look out. My new favourite drink.

Like so much of the craft movement, Eau Claire focuses on locally sourced and hand crafted product, basing their spirits on regional flavours and ingredients. Unlike many other spirit distillers, they start with locally grown barley, and put it through their custom copper still in various stages to achieve a distinct aromatic and flavour profile for their Vodka and Gin products, while we await their whiskey to finish aging in 2017.

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Three Point Vodka. Smooth, with a strong nose of banana and vanilla.

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Gin Rummy. Aromas remniscient of Spiced Christmas Fruitcake. (I don't like Fruitcake, but this smelled amazing).

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The main aromatics in Parlour Gin: Coriander, Juniper Berries, and Angelica Root.

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The small batch fermentation tanks in their production room.

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Tour guide explaining the process.

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Custom copper stills and proofing (?) tank.

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Barrel/ cask aging room for their single malt whiskey, to be ready for consumption in 2017.

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The floor may look like just a patch of gravel, but it is a purposefully laid mixture of clay underneath to help with humidity control in an otherwise low humidity province.

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Anita and Amy in the tasting room. Which was once home to a brothel.

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And for a little history lesson: Prohibition era Alberta (1916 - 1923) meant that to legally obtain alcohol, one needed a prescription. Here's an example of a bottle of liquor that was prescribed for medicinal reasons - this one was for treatment of anemia, with the description: Especially recommended for young girls, elderly people and for all persons requiring invigorating Iron Treatment. Early 20th century medicine, yo!

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