The countdown for the first Edmonton-made whiskey in recent history began on Monday Feb. 11 at Hansen Distillery. For whiskey to be called whiskey in Canada, it needs to be aged a minimum of three years in wood barrels and, two years ago, the relatively young distillery began the process of making its own.
According to Kris Sustrik, the distillery’s co-owner, Northern Eyes—the soon-to-be whiskey—is named for the business’ family in northern Alberta.
“All of the names of our spirits have something to do with our family,” he says.
Sustrik hopes Northern Eyes will have a distinct flavour. Most Canadian whiskies use ex-bourbon barrels, but Hansen Distillery used brand-new oak. The end result, according to Sustrik, will have a dark, robust beverage with notes of vanilla—it’ll end up being a sweet, yet spicy, whisky in the end, he says.
“That’s what I like—build what you like, right?” he says.
The distillery will have 36 barrels of the stuff hanging around—enough for one barrel per month for the first three years. They also have plans for five and 10-year whiskies.
“It’s kind of surreal right now. I didn’t think it was that big of a thing, but I guess it is. It’s kind of cool,” Sustrik says.
The whiskey will be added to Hansen’s lineup of vodkas, gins, cream liqueurs, moonshine (made with grain) and sugarshine.
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