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Spirits abound at Turner Valley distillery

To say the staff at Turner Valley’s Eau Claire Distillery is passionate about spirits would be an understatement.

The facility along Sunset Boulevard is not only Alberta’s first craft whiskey distillery, but is a sophisticated, yet rustic, operation awaiting libation greenhorns and connoisseurs alike.

Open seven days a week from mid-May to October, the Eau Claire Distillery tasting room creates a warm, inviting environment to sample some of the most innovative and premium distilled products available in Canada and beyond. Those made on site contain local ingredients and offer a taste that’s uniquely the Foothills.

Although the aging of hand-crafted whiskey is the primary focus of the operation, which is housed in the circa 1923 Turner Valley Movie Theatre and Dance Hall, the team at Eau Claire has been churning out vodka, gin, Gin Rummy and a Prickly Pear Cactus derived elixir call Spring Equinox.

Tours of the distillery allow the public to see exactly how the spirits are made. Understanding the care and attention put in to the products are all part of the experience. You can smell the distillation taking place as you cozy up to the bar in a tractor seat stool.

A humidity and temperature controlled warehouse adorns the rear of the operation, housing a myriad of barrels. Inside the stacked casks is whiskey that is influenced by the type of wood, char level of the barrel, mash and type of grain, yeast and, of course, the distillation process. The distillery uses seven different barrels ranging from one-time use American oak bourbon barrels to 100-year-old Oloroso sherry casks.

Alberta-grown grains for the whiskeys, rosehips flavoring the gin or Prickly Pear Cactus in the Spring Equinox are paramount to the ethos of Eau Claire Distillery. For more information visit eauclairedistillery.ca.

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