Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 19, 2017
Head Distiller Kris Sustrik
On January 26, 2017, I attended the VIP Launch Event for the Hansen Distillery, a brand new Craft Distiller situated here in Edmonton. The small distillery is located in Edmonton’s West End (17412 111 Ave NW), and the launch included a small tour of the distillery as well as an evening of cocktails made from Hansen’s craft spirit.
The Hansen Distillery has an unlikely history that began in the midst of the Great Depression when Carl and Amanda Hansen began to make moonshine in Southern Alberta. As I learned at the VIP event, this wasn’t about running ‘shine across the border to make tons of money off Prohibition, this was about keeping their farm and feeding a growing family by providing a little hooch for local socials and dances. Apparently Amanda made the moonshine, and Carl made it available to the local community. When World War II ended, the Depression was over as well, and Carl and Amanda left moonshining behind to go back to farming full-time. Of course they continued to distill the odd batch here and there for family occasions, and the recipe Amanda created was handed down to her children, and then to her grand children, and finally all the way to great-grandchildren, Kris and Shayna Sustrik. Kris and Shyna have decided to relaunch that family tradition and together they built the new Hansen Distillery here in Edmonton Alberta.
Border Crossing Rye Spirit
For more complete information about the Hansen Distillery you can follow this link to read about the launch event and my subsequent my tour of the facility.
and if you are interested in how their spirit tastes, here is a link to my review of their Border Crossing Rye Spirit (a 100% locally Alberta-grown, un-aged white rye).
“… The nose is very interesting with scents of mushy banana and plantain rising alongside zesty citrus notes and fresh spicy rye grain. Grilled zucchini and pineapple are hinted at as well …”
Please enjoy both the distillery tour and my Border Crossing Rye review which incidentally includes a great signature cocktail designed especially for the rye spirit called the Green Card.
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Distillery Tour | Tagged: Border Crossing, Green Card, Hansen Distillery, Review, Rye Spirit | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 4, 2016
Legend Distillery in Naramata B.C.
A distilling revolution is underway as small craft distilleries are beginning to make an impact on the landscape of Canadian spirits. About a month ago I profiled the Big Rig Craft Distillery, in Nisku, Alberta, and today I am hopping (in a virtual way) across the Rocky Mountains to Naramata, British Columbia to profile one of the Pacific Province’s newest Craft Distilleries, Legend Distilling.
Legend Distilling is a small craft distillery in the heart of B.C. Okanagan Wine Country. Owner’s Dawn and Doug Lennie moved to Naramanta 11 years ago and witnessed the progression of the wine business happening all around them. They were already running their own businesses, but had a dream of working together to build a new company they could share. Whiskey had always been a passion of Doug’s, and he had also been watching what was going on with craft distilling in the US. Both Dawn and he decided that spirits would be a great business to bring to the community as a compliment to all the great wines available around them. For Dawn and Doug, offering something new in the area was key. This included their unique location along the Naramata Bench, as other distilleries were being located in more industrial areas.
My complete virtual tour of Legend Distilling which includes profiles of their locally produced Vodka, Gin and Specialty Liqueurs can be found by clicking on the following link:
Note: I have received samples of most of the product line-up, and my review of their unique smokey rosemary flavoured gin, Defender Island will in a couple of days as my Gin Binge continues.
Posted in Distillery Tour, Extras | Tagged: Distillery Tour, Extras, Legend Distilling, Naramata | Comments Off on Distillery Profile: Legend Distilling
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 20, 2016
On January 12, 2016, I took a little tour south of Edmonton along the Queen Elizabeth II Highway to the Hamlet of Nisku. The small hamlet, which sits adjacent to Edmonton, is surrounded by what is called The Nisku Business Park. This industrial park contains an important assortment of businesses which provide support to the Oil Industry here in Alberta. What brought me to Nisku was Alberta’s newest craft distillery, the Big Rig Craft Distillery and their Pure Alberta Spirit.
I had been invited by the company President & Head Distiller, Geoff Stewart to come on down for a private tour of the facility, and of course to sample some of their new spirit in their newly opened Big Rig Craft Distillery Tasting Room. When I arrived I was greeted by Geoff and introduced to his team which included his General Manager & Co Distiller, Mike Beile and Blenders, Adam Smith and Joanne Keller.
The Big Rig Craft Distillery opened their doors on October 17, 2015 and they already have an impressive line-up of spirits for sale at their boutique store within the facility. These spirits include their Premium 16x Distilled Vodka and Wildrose Gin; their selections of White Dog Distillate (not whisky for three years yet); and their intriguing Sugar Beet Brum. As well, they are experimenting with an array of flavoured Vodkas some of which are bottled and ready for sale, and others which are in development. The most intriguing of these flavoured spirits was their Garlic Vodka which makes an entirely delicious Big Rig Garlic Caesar Cocktail (recipe coming soon).
The Big Rig Team: Adam Smith, Mike Beile and Geoff Stewart
During my tour, the team was busy producing both Vodka and Gin, and I was able to see both the equipment and the team in action. The distillery truly is a craft operation, as the entire process from grain to glass is completed in about 2 weeks in a batch-style by the Big Rig Team.
If you are interested in how the Big Rig team actually produces these premium spirits, here is a link to my description of the full tour.
Note: Please contact the Big Rig Craft Distillery for information regarding your own opportunity to tour their Craft Distillery (and Tasting Room).
Posted in Distillery Tour, Extras | Tagged: Big Rig Distillery, Distillery Tour | Comments Off on Big Rig Craft Distillery
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 20, 2012
The Diamond Distillery sits on the East Bank of the Demerara River near Georgetown, Guyana. I was given a unique opportunity to witness this facility in operation when I was invited by Demerara Distillers and Woodman Wines and Spirits to travel to Guyana for a very exclusive tour of their operations. Led by Operations Manager, Lennox Shaun Caleb, I was allowed to tour the Diamond Distillery on April 14, 2012 with a small group of Canadian Spirits Writers and Restauranteurs. Some of the Stills I saw in operation were over 250 years of age, and they are still producing (as closely as possible) the same historic marques of rum which they produced on the estates from whence they came. Superimposed upon the scene of ancient Stills and equipment is the dichotomy of a brand new distillation plant which works side by side with the historic stills. The new distillation plant represents a bridge to DDL’s future of new technology and methods of production. However, by continuing to operate the old plant and maintaining the unique marques of rum upon which the company built its original success, the foundations for that bridge to the future have been set firmly in their historic past.
Here is a link to my write-up on the Diamond Distillery Tour:
Posted in Distillery Tour, Extras, Rum | Tagged: Demerara Distillers Limited, Demerara Rum, Diamond Distillery, Distillery Tour, DrinkWire, El Dorado Rum, Rum | Comments Off on Demerara Distillers’ Diamond Distillery
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 16, 2012
True North Rye Whisky is produced from western prairie wheat and grains. It is aged in charred American oak barrels for a minimum of three years (as per Canadian Law) before being blended and bottled at the Highwood facility in High River, Alberta. True North is what I refer to as an economy whisky. It is inexpensive compared to other whisky in its category, and is a whisky meant for tall drinks as well as other cocktails in bars and restaurants (or on your back deck).
Highwood Distillers is the only Canadian distillery which uses wheat as its primary distilled grain. I have noticed when tasting the wheat based spirits in their portfolio that this grain seems to lend a soft gentleness to the final spirit. They use Rye is in much smaller quantities, and this grain adds a flavourful spiciness. Corn may also be used, and when it is, the corn provides additional sweetness, and body to the spirit.
Earlier this summer, I was given a bottle of Highwood’s True North Whisky for the purpose of a review here on my website. Here is an excerpt from the resulting review:
“…. True North tastes pretty much like an old-fashioned rye whisky with a nice bite of rye spice complemented with notes of butterscotch and caramel. I can taste the spiciness of ginger with perhaps just a dash of cloves and cardamom, and a very light sweetness. The spiciness warms the mouth, but there is just enough dusty dryness and flavours of ripened grain to appeal to me… “
You may read the full review here:
I have also provided a nice cocktail with the review, the Rye-jito.
Please enjoy the review and cocktail.
For those who are interested I have provided a detailed overview of Highwood’s distillation and whisky making process which you may find her:
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Distillery Tour, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Canadian Whisky Review, Cocktails and Recipes, Distillery Tour, Highwood Whisky, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off on Review: True North Canadian Rye Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 10, 2012
Wooden Coffey Still (Photo Courtesy Demerara Distillers Limited)
Just before Christmas I received some really good news. I had been invited to join a Rum Expedition to Guyana to visit the Demerara Distillers (DDL) facilities on a four-day trip which would also include two days of touring this tropical country to learn about the history and culture of Guyana. The expedition was the idea of Mr. Sameroo, (Managing Director, DDL) who asked Woodman Wines and Spirits (of Toronto) to organize a Canadian delegation with the aim of building our knowledge with respect to both Demerara Distillers and the Country of Guyana.
I am, of course, extremely excited because Demerara Distillers is home to what I consider to be two of the Great Wonders of the Rum World, their one of a kind Wooden Continuous Coffey or EHP Wooden Still which is the last fully functional still of its kind in the world today, and DDL’s last two fully functional original Wooden Pot Stills (one single and one double) which are each over 250 years old. Finally, although it is not quite as famous, there is another unique column still at the facility which I would love to see, Demerara Distillers’ French Savalle Column Still.
These stills are at the very heart of DDL’s rum production, and being allowed to tour the facility and watch how the rum is made is almost too good to be true. The trip has been described to me as a working tour which means (hopefully) that I will be able to see these famous stills up close doing the work that brings the famous Demerara Rum to the bottle.
As excited as I am about visiting Demerara Distillers and learning about their rum, I am equally excited about touring the Country of Guyana and learning about the history and culture of this remarkable country. Guyana is home to the Kaieteur Falls, which is the world’s largest single drop waterfall, measuring about 225 meters. This impressive natural wonder is just one of the sites which I will be privileged to visit. The trip will include visits to historic Fort Island, and an overnight stay at the wonderful Baganara Resort. I bought a new camera just for the trip, and I hope to share as much of the tour as possible with everyone who reads my blog.
So I hope everyone wishes me safe travels, as I will be arriving in Guyana on April 12, and returning to Canada on April 16. Hopefully I will have a great story to tell when I return.
Posted in Distillery Tour, Extras | Tagged: Demerara Distillers Limited, Distillery Tour, Guyana, Guyanese Rum | 2 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 26, 2010
Last week I took a little holiday from my regular routine and traveled 250 miles south to visit one of the last independent distillers of whisky in Canada. The trip took me 40 miles south of Calgary Alberta, to the town of High River, nestled beside the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the prairies.
High River is a great little town full of bustle and western charm. I couldn’t resist the urge to spend a little time just driving through the town, visiting a few of the local businesses and taking in the atmosphere of the place and the people. What I found was a town of friendly people with a solid blue collar work ethic. They all seemed to bustling around doing something important. But in spite of this apparent busyness, they were more than happy to help me out with directions to the local sights and even willing to share a story or two about the local history.
Highwood Distillery is the only Albertan owned distillery in the world. It sits in the heart of the High River community, producing 300,000 cases of bottled spirits per year.
If you are interested in learning how Hiaghwood produces their whiskies, rums and vodkas, please click on the link provide for a full report on this uniquely Albertan Distliiery;
I want to thank the staff at Highwood Distillers for taking the time to provide me with such a nice day at their facilities. Look for future articles where I will review the samples of White Owl Whisky and Momento Rum which they provided me at the tours conclusion.
Posted in Distillery Tour, Howls | Tagged: Distillery Tour, Highwood Rum, Highwood Whisky, Rum, Whisky | Comments Off on Howling Highlight: Highwood Distillers