Banff distillery latest to enter new Alberta liquor scene

Park Distillery is the latest craft distillery in Southern Alberta, and the first to operate in a National Park.

Craft beer is so 2014. Let's talk about craft spirits.

Park Distillery in Banff looking to expand

7 years ago
Duration 2:16
Craft spirit business lucrative for Banff's Park Distillery

Banff is the latest home of a new, boozy trend that's gaining popularity in Alberta.

Since June, Park Distillery has been in the craft spirit business.

"We're making some booze," master distiller Matthew Hendriks said.

Matthew Hendriks, a master distiller, hopes the craft distillery industry continues to grow in Alberta. (CBC)

"We're focusing on grain spirits. All Alberta family farm grains, and doing vodka, gin and whiskey."

Park is the latest craft distillery to open in Southern Alberta, joining Eau Claire in Turner Valley, and Last Best in Calgary.

A new industry

A business like this wasn't possible in Alberta until production limits were lifted in 2013. Before that, breweries and distilleries had to produce a minimum of 500,000 litres per year in order to be able to sell commercially.

Park Distillery has been in business in Banff since June. (CBC)

"That, for me, is 30 years of distilling," Hendriks said.

Without restrictions, craft spirits are joining craft beer as an alternative to the more popular, mass-produced products.

"It's growing as that beer industry did," he said.

"Nobody was around, and then it exploded. We're seeing that with this."

Growing a business

So far, Park's line of spirits is only available at a small store outside the distillery and a handful of restaurants in Banff.

The goal is to change that.

"We've hired a rep to kind of get us into small boutique liquor stores in Calgary and Edmonton," retail manager Nicole Mendelman said.

"It is a little bit challenging because we're brand new."

Retail manager Nicole Mendelman said the next step is to educate the consumer. (CBC)

Keeping up with demand is another anticipated challenge. According to Mendelman, Park produces roughly 25,000 bottles a year, and half them are sold at the store on-site.

All about the ingredients

"Everything's locally sourced from Alberta," Hendriks said.

"We have some of the best growing regions in the world here for grains. Malt, barley, rye, wheat. We even do corn down south in Taber."

Then, there's the water that comes from glaciers.

"If you think of every bourbon house in America, or Scottish whisky, there's usually a creek or a river that runs beside them, and they pull from that. With us having that glacier fed water system, it gives us a characteristic of our own."


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