FOOD AND THE CITY

Eau Claire introduces Alberta-made single malt whisky

After a long three-year wait, Alberta's first craft distillery has rolled out the barrel and released its first limited edition oak barrel-aged single malt whisky — the first produced in Alberta in modern times.

The craft distillery in Turner Valley is focused on using grains from local farms

Eau Claire president David Farran and master distiller Caitlin Quinn hold a bottle of the company's new single malt whisky. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

After a long three-year wait, Eau Claire, Alberta's first craft distillery, has rolled out the barrel and released its first limited edition oak barrel-aged single malt whisky — the first produced in Alberta in modern times.

A single malt whisky is produced with 100 per cent malted barley at one distillery. The whisky is blend between casks, but as opposed to a blended whisky, which is made by combining barrels from multiple distilleries, single malt is produced entirely on site.

Located in downtown Turner Valley, Eau Claire has garnered international attention, bringing home awards for its Parlour Gin and Pear EquineOx — a herbal, floral spirit distilled with local prickly pears.

1,000 bottles sold out

Eau Claire's first single malt whisky — and the first for master distiller Caitlin Quinn, who grew up in Scotland and earned her master's degree in Edinburgh before moving to Alberta — has been so highly anticipated, the first 1,000 bottles quickly sold out, with a few reserved behind the bar at the distillery.

Quinn describes it as fruity, with notes of apple and oak, and caramel from the malt.

The first 1,000 bottles of Eau Claire's single malt whisky quickly sold out, but you can get a taste at the distillery. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

"We've taken no shortcuts in this process and are confident that this first, limited edition whisky will make Albertans proud," says Eau Claire Distillery president and founder David Farran. Eau Claire plans to release both single malt and rye whiskies annually, with its rye scheduled to be released mid 2018 and the next batch of single malt later in the year.

"It's a tough industry to be in — there's such a high capital investment," says Farran. "And when you're making whisky, you have to wait for at least three years (a whisky must spend three years in the barrel before being bottled), so it becomes a cash-flow issue."

Locally sourced

Focused on handcrafted, small-batch spirits distilled from grains sourced from local farms, Eau Claire is one of very few producers of single malt whiskies in Canada. In a province known for its high quality grains, including barley and rye, much of which is shipped to Scotland to make Scotch, it makes sense to distill right here.

Eau Claire Distillery products are available across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, as well as at its tasting room in Turner Valley.

Eau Claire Distillery, 113 Sunset Blvd NW, Turner Valley, AB, 403-933-6141, eauclairedistillery.ca, @eauclairecraft