Diamond Valley's Eau Claire Distillery winning awards for its rye whisky
Eau Claire Distillery came up with a blended rye whisky a year ago and it's receiving global attention after winning a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
David Farran, founder and president of the distillery, is proud of his team for producing the Stampede Canadian Rye Whisky.
"San Francisco is like the Olympics," he said.
"If you win at San Francisco, it really is street cred. It tells everybody that this is a serious distillery, so we were delighted when we got that and we really only enter in the competitions that we know actually carry some weight."
Farran and his staff have produced a number of award-winning whiskies over the past decade.
"It's kind of slowly putting us in the stratosphere of whiskies," he said.
"Because we're beating out all of the major whisky brands in the world and I think that's what gives us some pride."
For this product, Farran has teamed up with the Calgary Stampede to make the spirit the official rye whisky of the event.
"It's only been on the market for a year and judging by its popularity, I think for us, it's proof positive that we're doing something right," Farran said.
"Because we did another one that is getting awards and is popular in the marketplace."
Will Osler, president and chair of the board for the Calgary Stampede, says the local "farm to glass" idea fits well with the 10-day show.
"We're very happy that they created a rye whisky that really celebrates the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede," Osler said.
"It just feels right. So much of what we're trying to do year-round at the Calgary Stampede is to celebrate agri-food and agriculture. Rye whisky is part of that and it just really fits. It is a matter of pride for all of us at the Stampede and we're really happy to see them succeeding in a tough industry."
Darryl Corbett, spirits expert at Willow Park Wines and Spirits, has tasted thousands of whiskies from all over the world and has no problem recommending Alberta-made products.
"The San Francisco Wine and Spirits awards are the prestigious awards in my eyes," he said.
He notes there are more than 30 craft distilleries in Alberta today, saying these are the golden years of spirit production in the province.
"People from out of town want to get something that's made locally. Alberta Premium is a world-class distillery and they're in our own backyard in Ogden," he said.
"A lot of people, when they're visiting Europe, they want to bring something with them for their hosts from our humble province and I'm very proud to recommend any of these whiskies for them."
When Eau Claire Distillery started in 2013, it was the first craft distillery in the province and Farran says it's come a long way.
"It is an exercise in patience when you make whisky," he said.
"You're in it for the long haul, so when we're talking about our anniversary of 10 years, we're kind of just getting started because what are those 20-year whiskies going to look like."
You can learn more about the Stampede Canadian Rye Whisky at eauclairedistillery.ca.