The area around Turner Valley is called Whisky Ridge, named after the illegal stills that churned out plenty of bootlegged moonshine after Prohibition became law in Alberta on July 1, 1916 (this was the second time the province saw alcohol outlawed. In the late 19th century, Canadian prairie provinces saw 17 years of Prohibition, which came to an end in 1892 according to an article in the Toronto Sun). How fitting that it is now home to Eau Claire Distillery, Alberta’s first craft distillery creating high quality, “farm-to-glass” Albertan spirits.
If you’re into exploring Alberta or looking for an easy day trip from Calgary, the drive out along The Cowboy Trail for a distillery tour and spirits tasting in the newly opened tasting room is well worth your time.
The tour itself is around 20 minutes, taking you through a brief history of the area and the building housing the distillery (an old movie theatre on Turner Valley’s main street, once named Whisky Row, now named Sunset Boulevard).
If you time your visit right, you may luck out on a day that Eau Claire Distillery is making a new batch of spirits and see the team in action.
You’ll be taken through the main distillation area and then on into the whisky aging room. The room contains a gravel floor which helps maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level. One barrel in the room is over a century old!
The tour ends in the tasting room where you can sample the Parlour Gin, Three Point Vodka and seasonal spirit, which for our visit was the Spring Equinox, a light and fruity spirit with a dominant taste of prickly pear.
Tours and tastings run Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 430pm. No reservations needed.
Looking for more information about Eau Claire Distillery? Check out its profile on MyLocalDistillery.com.