Calgary distiller crafts 52 different gins in 1 year

Roughly every week for the past year, Bryce Parsons has crafted a different gin.

The gins are a rainbow of colours and flavours

Alberta distiller crafts 52 different gins in 1 year 1:55

Roughly every week for the past year, Bryce Parsons has crafted a different gin.

"Gin's a very versatile spirit, and because of that versatility, I thought there's room to do 52 in one year," he said.

Parsons, who is the distillery operations manager at Last Best Brewing & Distilling in Calgary's Beltline, celebrated his feat Monday by hosting a tasting for his concoctions.

"A big reason of getting into it I guess was I wanted it to be a personal challenge," Parsons said. 

"I don't think anyone has done that in the world before … I think I'm the first person crazy enough."

Bryce Parsons is a distiller at Last Best Brewing & Distilling. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

He said the idea came from when he got his masters degree in distilling in Scotland, where he studied the flavouring and evolution of the drink.

The gins are a rainbow of colours and flavours.

"This is showing that gin doesn't have to just be a clear liquid … with gin you can be very, very playful with it and add colour to add personality to the gin," he said. "It doesn't just have to be juniper."

The spirits range from the simple — dry #1 — to wilder botanical mixtures, like the peppery and nutty #43 "Mulan Szechuan" with Italian juniper, Alberta coriander, angelica root, elderberry, szechuan peppercorn, cinnamon, roasted marcona almond and rosehips, all macerated or softened for 15 hours.

The 52 gins were made with a wide variety of botanical ingredients. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

The final gin was made with 16 botanicals from Parsons' sister's garden.

"Gin is a very creative spirit," said Parsons. "What we do is we come up with our recipe of the botanicals we want to use, and we put it into the spirit, and we let it soak for a certain amount of time. And then we put it into the still and we redistill it again."

The distillery's copper still is very versatile, said Parsons, allowing them to make a base spirit and then later add flavour.

The gins are distilled into a base spirit, then infused with different flavours before being distilled a second time. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

It takes 18 hours to make each base spirit and another five hours to add flavouring.

He said the challenge wasn't just a solo project — he brought in different collaborations from Calgary's food community to create some of the flavours.

Parsons documented the project on Instagram at @gincrazeyyc.

With files from Monty Kruger

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