A local distillery has recently won the top award for their whiskey on the international stage.

Eau Claire Distillery in Diamond Valley won a platinum award for their Rupert's Exceptional Whisky at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) in April.

"There's a lot of excitement in Turner Valley over this at the distillery," says David Farran, the Founder and CEO of Eau Claire Distillery. "We won the award after getting a double gold for three years in a row, which turns it into what's called a platinum award, at, really, what is the most prestigious awards program for spirits in the world. So, it really puts us in the stratosphere of high-end whiskeys. It's super exciting."

At only ten years old, Eau Claire Distillery is still a young distillery, but Farran says winning this award is like winning the Triple Crown.

"That's another exciting thing for us, because it takes a long time to make whiskey, because we have to mature it for a number of years. So, we're just hitting our stride as a distillery, competing now against some distilleries that have been around for 300 years and we're beating them at their own game."

According to Farran, their Rupert's whiskey is a good all-around whiskey that anybody can sip and enjoy, and says that it's unique because of what they do at the distillery. 

"We use a number of different types of barrels. We use new European Oak barrels, we use Oloroso Sherry casks, and we use bourbon barrels," Farran explains. "So, the barrels become a big part of the flavour and then we use Alberta barley, which we are very proud of. And that gives it a sort of unique terroir flavour."

Farran adds that their whiskey is unusual, because of the altitude at which it is being created. 

Award wining whiskeyAward-winning whiskey from Eau Claire Distillery 

"Most whiskeys are made at sea level, and in Turner Valley we are about 4,000 feet. We have a completely different altitude and climate, which is quite dry. And that means that we have a higher evaporation rate, but it concentrates the whiskey, and it matures way faster. Probably twice the speed of other whiskeys."

Farran says that while their whiskey loses a bunch of water throughout the process of making it, their process of creating whiskey and the climate of the area has helped them to become a superlative whiskey maker.

"We're just so excited for our team. We've got two very talented Scottish-born distillers and a whole team of people who love what they do and they're proud of creating an exemplary whiskey. This is a big deal for us. It's a big deal for our own staff and to prove that we are making something really special in the world."

While it generally takes five years for a bottle of Rupert's, they don't worry too much about the actual length of time in the barrel, because they take the whiskey as it matures at different rates.

Eau Claire Distillery also won a gold for their Batch 7 Single Malt Whiskey at the World Whiskies Awards.

"It's proving up that we're not a one-trick wonder, we're actually consistently producing really high-quality whiskey," Farran says.

Eau Claire has won awards for every whiskey they have entered into a competition.

When a distillery enters a whiskey into a competition, the whiskey has to make it through a series of tiers with expert judges from all over the world.

"And they're the top of their class. They are the people that know the whiskey the best, they come from all over the industry. And when you get a double gold, it means 70 judges have blind-tasted your whiskey. So, they don't know what the whiskey is and they had unanimously agreed that's the best whiskey. It's sort of the ultimate assurance that everybody agreed that this was the best in its class."

Eau Clair Distilleries is based in Diamond Valley because Farran grew up in the area and they wanted to be in a place where they could put down some roots.

"Because you need to be where you can mature whiskey for up to 25 years and the facilities, and the building, and the land were all available at the time. We're really excited to be part of the fabric of Diamond Valley. It's nice to be part of a community, rather than drowned in a big place in a big city."

Farran adds that it's exciting for a small Alberta Distillery to make it to this level, especially because theirs is the only Canadian Whiskey to earn the platinum award.

They are also one of the most awarded distilleries in Canada.