There were weather warnings from Environment Canada. Mountains of slush and sleet falling from the sky made the roads more than a little treacherous.
Still, there was a long lineup of whisky enthusiast who lined up Tuesday, some for more than two hours, to get the chance to purchase one of the first 500 bottles of the first-ever whisky to be made within Edmonton’s city limits.
Hansen Distillery expects the first batch of 500 Northern Eyes Whisky to sell out either later Tuesday or some time Wednesday. There is another batch that will be available in March. Such is the demand for a single-source rye that was distilled and aged in Edmonton. It’s the kind of non-blended, easily traceable spirit that collectors love. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson was on hand, along with NDP MLA Jon Carson, to celebrate at Hansen’s west-end distillery. Iveson was presented Bottle No. 1, in an ornate wooden box. That bottle will go to Edmonton’s archives. Iveson and Carson were also asked to help fill and cork a few bottles.
The whisky has a real smoky feel; the sweetness isn’t too pronounced.
“It’s refined, but a little bit rough, just like Edmonton,” joked the mayor. The release of Northern Eyes marks the beginning of an extensive whisky program for the Edmonton distillery, which already has casks in reserve that contain rye spirits that are still aging. For more on the program, see our story from the December issue.