Saskatchewan distillery wins big at international vodka competition

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Sask. distillery wins big at vodka competition
WATCH: It's a common occurrence now for people to start their own breweries. Brody Ratcliffe has the story of one distillery in rural Saskatchewan that's making its name known around the world. – May 8, 2023

Backroads Distillery won big at the 2023 World Vodka Awards in the United Kingdom. Their Alibi vodka won the world’s best neutral vodka award.

“To think that small town Saskatchewan, in the middle on nowhere on the edge of a lake, is able to produce a quality product up there with the best in the world is — I don’t know how long it’s going to take before I actually say now, I believe it, ” said Ray Shevernoah,  co-owner of Backroads Distillery in Wakaw, Sask.

The vodka first won best in Canada, then it faced off against the best from other countries before capturing its title.

The distillery was started four years ago. Ray, along with his wife Sandy and two sons, Chase and Cruz, spent large amounts of time visiting other distilleries, taking business classes and perfect their recipe.

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It was an uncertain start for the group, not knowing where the road may take them.

“When we were contemplating starting a distillery, I would walk into a liquor store and stand there at the wall of vodka and just think, ‘Are we crazy?'” said Shevernoah.

Placing the business in Wakaw was an easy decision for the ownership group. “If the odd thing pops up here or there or if a delivery truck shows up late, I’m two minutes from here,” says Shevernoah.  It’s also closer to their suppliers — Saskatchewan farmers.

“The grains that are used to make vodka are just second to none,” adds Ray. “Where else in the world do you get quality like right here in Saskatchewan?”

The award has generated tons of interest for both existing and new customers. “All of a sudden, everybody that we talked to has heard of Alibi or had heard the story about the world’s best,” said Ray. “You can’t generate that kind of exposure that we got from this award.”

You can find Alibi vodka in about half of Saskatchewan liquor stores in the top part of the province. Next, the distillery hopes to grow their business in the south part of the province.

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