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Monday, April 25, 2016

Two Cowboys on a Journey: Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley - Alberta

The Essence of Alberta

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Alberta is well known for its black gold. The Province is loved and loathed for its production of oil. It has been more 100 years since the discovery of oil and gas. Turner Valley was the first place in the province to become well known for the abundance of this valuable resource. 

There is another gold that made Alberta famous or infamous at the turn of the last century. This one came in a glass. During the 1870's there were many independent companies trading whisky to the Native peoples of the south-west part of the North-West Territories. In 1873, the Canadian government formed the North-West Mounted Police to reduce the use of alcohol as a trading currency. Prohibition ensued in 1916 to distill in 1923. However, the commercial production of whisky and beer and any form of liqueur remained under tight control of the Alberta Government, until relatively recently.

Today, the price and production of Oil is under pressure. Thousands of Albertans are forced to find alternative ways to make a living. Sooner or later history usually repeats itself. It is almost inevitable that the resourcefulness of these people brings them right back to the core products that are made possible by a strong agricultural heritage. Alberta's farming gold. Alberta produces some of the worlds best grains and honey. The grains make Alberta beef taste phenomenal. With honey, it is also the backbone and currency that drives a renaissance in the production of the best beer, spirits and mead. 

Alberta exports its honey, barley, malt and wheat without adding much value. It is sent to countries like Scotland where it is made into the world's best Scotch. Germans use their barley and wheat to brew their beer. This is about to change. A few outstanding entrepreneurial Albertans are taking the lead at using Albert's other gold to produce amazing products. 


Alberta is slowly getting back into the liqueur business. The history is deep. Many say it is in their Alberta veins. David Farran and his team at Turner Valley's Eau Claire Distillery is one of the Producers that is putting Alberta on the world stage of craft distilling. Their Parlour Gin is delicious. We cannot wait to taste their whisky when it is ready in 2018.

Eau Claire's two young master distillers (one an import from Scotland) use the very best ingredients local Alberta has to offer. "It comes from my farm, fifteen minutes down the road," Farran says. They distil small batches with unique attributes of the terroir. A little bit of Turner Valley, some of Olds, and cacti from the Southern Prairies of Alberta (I will let you discover this one for yourself). 

Farm-fresh ingredients and historic hand-crafted methods define Eau Claire’s artisanal spirits that redefine taste, one ‘grain-to-glass’ experience at a time. When you have a sniff and a snort of Eau Claire's elixirs, you smell and taste the essence of Alberta. 

For now, it is also the only place where you can get it. Right here in Alberta.

Thank you, David, for sharing it with us. We are glad you are one of us.

Hendrik van Wyk

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Eau Claire


Where it began...

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