Alberta Distillers Limited logo, established 1946.

Alberta Distillers

  • Canada
  • Gold Medal at San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Gold and Platinum at SIP Award, Gold at World Whisky Awards,
Phone Number
  • +14032652541
  • 1521 34 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1V9, Canada

Alberta Distillers

History of Alberta Distillers

Founding and Early Years

Alberta Distillers was founded in 1946 by oilman Frank M. McMahon and B.C. distiller George H. Reifel. It holds the distinction of being the first and oldest distiller in the province of Alberta. Located in the Alyth/Bonnybrook industrial area, the factory still maintains some of its original polished-hardwood floors.

Growth and Expansion

From its modest beginnings with four fermenters and six small tanks, Alberta Distillers has significantly expanded its operations. Today, the distillery boasts over 30 product and processing tanks and has 450,000 barrels aging across 10 warehouse buildings. This growth underscores the distillery’s evolution from a local player to a significant global presence.

Product Innovation

Alberta Distillers is renowned for its focus on value-priced whiskies, such as Alberta Premium, and is particularly noted for its 100-per cent-rye whisky, a Canadian specialty. This focus on rye mashing has gained them a formidable reputation, especially in global markets.

Current Status

Despite its long history and significant contributions to the whisky industry, Alberta Distillers maintains a somewhat low profile in its home city of Calgary. However, the distillery’s products are distributed worldwide, demonstrating its global reach and influence in the spirits industry.

Awards Won by Alberta Distillers

  1. Alberta Pure Vodka:
    • Award: Gold Medal at San Francisco World Spirits Competition
    • Features: Triple-distilled, cold-filtered, uses locally sourced grains and glacier water.
  2. Alberta Premium (100% Rye Whisky):
    • Recognition: World’s No.1 selling 100% rye whisky
    • Awards: Gold and Platinum at SIP Awards, Gold at ISC.
  3. Alberta Premium Cask Strength:
    • Purpose: Innovation in Canadian Whisky category
    • Awards: Gold at IWSC, Double Gold at SIP Awards, Gold at ISC, Gold at World Whisky Award.
  4. Alberta Springs (Rye Blend):
    • Description: Full-bodied, aged for ten years.
  5. Banff Ice Vodka:
    • Characteristics: Noted for smoothness and purity
    • Awards: Gold at IWSC, Gold at SIP Awards, Double Gold at ISC.

Innovation and Excellence in Whisky Production at Alberta Distillers 

Innovative Production Techniques

Alberta Distillers stands out in the spirits industry for its innovative approach to producing high-quality spirits cheaply. A key factor in this process is the use of “house-made” enzymes for starch-to-sugar conversion, a crucial step in alcohol production.

Shannon Thomas: A Key Contributor

Shannon Thomas, a microbiologist at Alberta Distillers, plays a pivotal role in creating these enzymes in-house. This method contrasts with the common industry practice of using commercial enzymes. Thomas’ expertise allows the distillery to produce a more efficient and flavor-enhancing enzyme mix, which is not only cost-effective but also contributes to the unique taste of their spirits.

The Importance of Enzymes in Rye Production

The use of these specialized enzymes is particularly significant in the production of rye whisky, a specialty of Alberta Distillers. Unlike the approach of adding malted grain, typically barley, to a mash, the enzymes developed by Thomas ensure a more controlled fermentation process. This not only increases yield but also adds distinct flavors during the cooking and fermenting stages.

Impact on Quality and Cost

The efficiency gained from using these in-house developed enzymes is reflected in the price and quality of Alberta Distillers’ products. Commercial enzymes, often used in bourbon production, can lead to inefficiencies that impact both yield and production costs. Alberta Distillers’ method circumvents these issues, ensuring a high-quality product at a more affordable price.

What To Do Nearby Alberta Distillers

Elk Island National Park: Known for bison spotting and wildlife conservation efforts, this park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. You might catch a glimpse of herds grazing in a meadow.

Muttart Conservatory: Located in Edmonton River Valley, this botanical garden features three glass pyramid biomes, each hosting a unique plant environment. It’s an educational and visually stunning experience.

Talus Dome: This unique sculpture made of stainless steel spheres offers an interesting photo opportunity. It changes colours with the seasons and is easily accessible in Edmonton.

Edmonton High Level Bridge Streetcar: Enjoy a historic streetcar ride over the Edmonton High Level Bridge. It’s a nostalgic journey with great views, followed by a visit to the Streetcar Museum.

Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary: Explore Canada’s largest living history museum. With preserved heritage buildings, antique steam train tours, and various interactive experiences, it’s an exciting journey through time.

Spruce Meadows: Near Calgary, this multi-sport facility is renowned for world-class equestrian events. It’s an ideal spot for horse enthusiasts and offers a unique sporting experience.

Calgary Tower: Offering panoramic views of the city and the Rockies, the observation deck of this 191-metre tower is a must-visit for breathtaking scenery.

Alberta Food Finder Game in Calgary: This self-guided food tour through Kensington offers a fun and interactive way to explore local cuisine, complete with discounts and exclusive samples.

Downhill Karting at Calgary Winsport: Experience the thrill of downhill kart racing on a 1.8km track with 50 twists and turns. It’s an exhilarating activity for all ages.

Calaway Park in Calgary: Western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park offers rides, games, and entertainment, making it a perfect family day out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Alberta Distillers?

Coco Brooks Highfield: This pizza restaurant boasts a 4.5-star rating. For reservations, you can contact them at +1 403-243-2677. Their address is 640 42 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1Y6, Canada.

Molcajete: A Mexican restaurant rated at 4.5 stars. They can be reached for reservations at +1 403-606-0644. The restaurant is located on the first floor of the Crossroads Market at 1235 26 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1R7, Canada.

Holy Grill: With a 4.6-star rating, this restaurant offers a selection of burgers and paninis. They are open for dine-in, takeout, and no-contact delivery. You can call them at +1 403-454-4659 for reservations. Their address is 444 5 Ave SW #200, Calgary, AB T2P 2T8, Canada.

What hotels are near Alberta Distillers?

The Glenmore Inn & Convention Centre: It has a rating of 4.1 stars. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +1 403-279-8611. Their address is 1000 Glenmore Ct SE, Calgary, AB T2C 2E6, Canada.

The Westley Calgary Downtown, Tapestry Collection by Hilton: This hotel has a rating of 4.7 stars. For booking a room, you can call them at +1 403-764-6262. The hotel is located at 630 4 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0J9, Canada.

Best Western Plus Calgary Centre Inn: It has a rating of 4.2 stars. For reservations, their contact number is +1 403-287-3900. The address of the hotel is 3630 Macleod Trail South, Calgary, AB T2G 2P9, Canada.