Whisky can be crafted from various grains, including barley, corn, rye, and wheat. The aging process, typically in wooden casks, gives whisky its characteristic colour and contributes to its flavour profile. This spirit is distinguished by its regional variations, such as Scotch, Bourbon, and Rye. Alberta's expansive farmlands yield high-quality grains, making the province an ideal location for whisky production, as well as one of the top exporters of whisky-making grains to Ireland. The cold winters and temperate summers further influence the maturation process, allowing for unique flavour development in the barrels.
While whisky's origins trace back to Ireland and Scotland, its introduction to Canada came with settlers who brought their distilling knowledge with them. In Alberta, the whisky industry began taking shape in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Over the years, despite challenges like Prohibition, Alberta distilleries persevered, refining their techniques and producing whisky expressions that gained both national and international acclaim. Today, Alberta is home to several renowned distilleries, with Alberta Premium's cask strength rye even being named "World Whisky of the Year" in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2021.
While whisky is a beloved sipping spirit, its depth and complexity also lend itself to culinary applications. In cooking, whisky can be used to deglaze pans, resulting in rich, flavorful sauces. It's a wonderful ingredient in marinades and glazes, especially for meats like steak or pork. Desserts, too, benefit from a splash of whisky, be it in chocolatey treats, puddings, or pies. On the beverage front, whisky is the foundation of many classic cocktails, from the Old Fashioned to the Whisky Sour. Alberta's unique whiskys, with their distinct grain profiles and aging techniques, provide a flavorful twist to both traditional and inventive dishes and drinks.