Sask. grain growers-turned-distillers win award for world's best gin

An international competition that seeks out the world’s best gin has raised its glass to a Saskatchewan distillery for its uniquely Canadian spirits.

Black Fox Farm and Distillery won an international prize for its oaked gin

Black Fox Farm and Distillery owners Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote and John Cote are long-time Saskatchewan grain farmers who shifted their focus to making spirits. (Submitted by Black Fox Farm and Distillery)

An international competition that seeks out the world's best gin has raised its glass to a Saskatchewan distillery.

The Oaked Gin Barrel Two from Saskatoon's Black Fox Farm and Distillery was recently crowned the best cask gin at the World Gin Awards in London, U.K.

The distillery was launched in 2015 by John Cote and Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote, grain farmers who turned their talents to filling glasses as well as grain bins.

Stefanyshyn-Cote said the company grows 90 per cent of the ingredients it uses in its spirits.

"Distilling was actually a very good option for us because with our grain background we knew what ingredients to grow, we know how to handle it, we know how to store it," she said.

Having been judged against companies from around the world, Stefanyshyn-Cote said she was shocked to win the title.

She said the winning gin had a good nose and was well-suited to turn-of-the-century cocktails, such as the Negroni.

"This gin has hints of oak because it was in the barrel, it has some vanilla," said Stefanyshyn-Cote.

"It's a rhubarb base that would be in it. We also use some of the flowers that we grow here."

She added that the gin is uniquely Canadian because of the local ingredients and growing conditions, and it incorporates flowers grown on the local farm.

The recipe was perfected by John, who is the distiller at Black Fox.

"It's the combination of Saskatchewan and the terroir that we have here that makes our ingredients unique and special and I think that's what gave us the edge," said Stefanyshyn-Cote.

With the new award to its name, she said the distillery is now looking forward to June 10, World Gin Day. 

With files from CBC's Victoria Dinh