Turner Valley distillery wins big at global competition with 'the quintessential Alberta grain'

A southern Alberta craft distillery, which launched just three years ago, is crediting barley for its success after winning big at an international competition.

1,800 people blind-tested chose Eau Claire Distillery's gin as their favourite

Turner Valley's Eau Claire Distillery is punching above its weight, after winning big at an international competition in San Francisco recently. (eauclairecraft/Instagram)

A southern Alberta craft distillery which launched just three years ago is crediting barley for its success after winning big at an international competition.

"We use barley as our main thing because we believe that is the quintessential grain for Alberta," Eau Claire Distillery owner David Farran told The Homestretch this week.

David Farran, owner at Turner Valley's Eau Claire Distillery, says barley makes all the difference in their success. (Submitted by Eau Claire Distillery)

"While it is slightly more expensive in terms of efficiency, it is way, way more flavourful."

The Turner Valley distillery picked up three awards at the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco in late April.

Farran's flavoured vodka took a gold medal in the competition which draws thousands of entrants.

"There's a lot of flavoured vodkas out there," Farran said.

"We do one that is very unique. We make it out of Alberta barley and we use prickly pear cactus which is a cactus that grows in southeastern Alberta. It gives it a really unique flavour. It's rare to make it out of barley and it's super rare, I think it's the first time ever, that anybody has distilled it with prickly pear."

Eau Claire's parlour gin took bronze that was chosen in a blind taste test that Farran says is noteworthy.

"Probably more thrilling for us is we won the consumer choice award in the sip awards this year. It's 1,800 people blind-tested across the United States and they chose our gin as their favourite," Farran said.

"There are thousands of entries. You are competing with some very well established and big brands but out of our little distillery in Turner Valley, we seem to be turning out some pretty good stuff."

As the first independent craft distillery, Farran says he's hoping for a revolution similar to another craft product in the province.

"Craft distilling is brand new in this province. It has given us the push to make sure we create flavours that you are just not used to on the market," he said.

"You think about what happened to craft beer 30 years ago. The same thing is starting to happen with craft distilleries."

With files from The Homestretch