A smooth, Canadian whisky made in Calgary has been named best in the world by the prestigious Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.
'Alberta Premium Cask Strength' produced by Calgary-based Alberta Distillers, was named 'World Whisky of the Year,' by Murray in his Whisky Bible 2021.
George Teichroeb, general manager of Alberta Distillers, told CBC's The Homestretch that the news is still sinking in.
"It's incredible, we're still feeling the effects of the news," Teichroeb said. "And I don't know if it's fully sinking yet. We knew when we released it that we would be shaking things up maybe a little bit in the Canadian whisky market, but to be called World Whisky of the Year -- wow."
The whisky is made with 100 per cent Alberta rye grain, and water from the Rockies.
The renowned whisky reviewer, who releases his Whisky Bible every year, wrote that Alberta Premium Cask Strength is something to truly worship.
"Well, Jim Murray, I don't think he lies too much, it is fantastic," Teichroeb said with a laugh.
"Releasing a cask strength is something where you put it all out there. This relies on your process from grain, right through the maturing process. So, we didn't think it was a risk because we have a lot of pride and we stand behind our our product … it's an incredible product."
The review process is stringent. But Alberta Distillers has been on the radar before — Alberta Premium was named "Canadian Whisky of the Year" in Murray's 2006 through 2009 Whisky Bibles.
But this time, it's on the world stage, beating out roughly 1,200 whisky selections.
"We've been doing 100 per cent rye grain since 1946. And I mean, that's our primary ingredient and it's sourced locally and we're proud of that," he said. "About 85 per cent of all of our rye grain comes from within 300 miles of Calgary."
The distillery has its own enzyme lab.
"That's specific for what we require, to turn the starches for a rye grain. It is heavier in protein, so it's that's one of the key things that our guys keep telling me, that having that lab to be able to produce those enzymes is critical for that process," he said. "And running it through a pot still and then using new white charred oak barrels. And that process, that's where the magic happens."
The distillery started in 1946, and has been producing a number of spirits but has always specialized in rye.
"Ninety-five per cent of all North American rye comes from two primary sources and one of the distilleries in Indiana and the largest is here in Alberta and not very well known. But anybody in the whisky business knows that if you have a hundred percent rye grain whisky, it's probably coming from Alberta."
The award will mean more people seeking out what is already a limited edition product, launched last November.
"Unfortunately, when you age spirit, we would have had to have this vision, you know, five, 10 years ago," Teichroeb said. "From what I understand, it did go off shelves pretty quickly. I think it's probably in limited supplies in Calgary right now, but we'll see what the future has to offer."