Edmontonians lined up Tuesday to get their hands on the first-ever locally-made whisky.
“I’m beyond excited about how good it turned out. I would not have released it if it wasn’t ready,” said Kris Sustrik, who owns the distillery with his wife Shayna Hansen.
He describes Northern Eyes as, “a real cowboy-style whisky,” with some hints of vanilla, caramel, roasted toffee, with a back end of leather and pipe tobacco.
“I wanted to use 100 per cent rye. I wanted to use brand new barrels with our own toast and char on them,” Sustrik said. “I wanted a whiskey that was real smokey, had a lot of depth and character to it.”
Tuesday’s launch was for in-person sales only, a decision made to honour the local customers who helped the distillery thrive.
“It was important to us not to allow it to go online right away,” said Hansen. “Because people here come support us every day.”
Long-time customer Emmett Keenam was the first person in line. He arrived there at 11 p.m. Monday.
“I always told Kris, when he was making whisky that I would be the first one… and I made it happen,” said Keenam.
Keenam said he would be keeping his “first-in-line” bottle sealed.
“I’m very excited and proud for them. It’s something important. I don’t drink lots of alcohol but this is something special to have, a keepsake.”
Don Iveson, who had been on-hand when the distillery sealed up the first barrel three years ago, was honoured with the “official” first bottle as a gift. It will be placed in the city archives.
“I’m very proud of this family and this company for the creativity and perseverance that they’ve displayed,” Iveson said. “And it shows you can build a great product here that Edmontonians will embrace.”
“It’s a proud moment for us to share this first bottle of whisky with the City of Edmonton because they have been our supporters. It’s a new tough industry and we’re flying by the seat of our pants,” Hansen said.
The whisky will launch for online sales after the first two barrels are released locally, the distillery said on Twitter.
The distillery was expected to sell out of its first batch Tuesday. The next round of bottles will be released March 3.
Hansen Distillery is located in west Edmonton at 17412 111 Ave NW.