Keno, Yukon, turns 100 and there's a whisky to celebrate it

When Scott Buchanan came up with the idea of a special whisky to celebrate his community's centenary this year, he wanted it to capture the "whole spirit of Keno."

"The geology, the mineralization — it's famous. But what really strikes me is the accomplishments and the dedication of our community pioneers," he said from his home in Keno, a tiny mining community in central Yukon.  

"It is a rugged place. It's inspiring."

Buchanan took his idea to Whitehorse's Two Brewers, and somehow the whisky makers translated it into liquid.

"Scott very clearly described what he wanted to be able to perceive from the taste of the whiskey, but he never used a single word that had to do with taste. It was about smell and feel and colour, and the smell of the wind off the rocks," recalled Bob Baxter of Two Brewers.

"It was a whole new process for us."

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Baxter said they didn't want Keno to just be a name on the label, so they tried to figure out a way to give it some authenticity.

"We had actually talked about the potential for taking a barrel of whisky and sticking it down a mine shaft in Keno for couple years, to pick up the terroir of Keno. But for various reasons — first among them, it's not legal — but beyond that we decided not to do that," he said. 

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Instead, they added a local ingredient — water collected by Buchanan from Erickson Creek.

"I undertook a fresh test of it first, to make sure it was safe, and it passed with flying colours which is remarkable ... It's a really good source of water in the area," Buchanan said.

The company has produced 300 bottles, and Baxter said he has no idea how long it will take to sell.

"But that doesn't matter. It's to, I guess, have some sort of a liquid party around something that deserves it," Baxter said.

He described its taste as very clean, with a "bit of a metallic note."

"Maybe I'm prejudiced, but I close my eyes, I'm in Keno."