After years of prohibition and tough regulations, craft distilleries open for the first time in Edmonton

Now, the city has two. They opened within a day of each other last week.

Strathcona Spirits (10122 81 Ave) had its gin and vodka on liquor store shelves Thursday, and Hansen Distillery (17412 111 Ave) threw open its doors Friday for tours and tastings.

 

Both distilleries took advantage of recent deregulation by the province. Before 2013, licensed distilleries had to produce at least 2,500 hectolitres of alcohol a year — far too large an amount for craft distilleries to handle. The province removed this rule, among others, in 2013.

According to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, the number of distilleries in the province has since increased from three (before 2013) to 15 (and counting).

Both Edmonton distilleries bank on reaching customers who care about the local food movement and prefer gin made from Alberta grains and Edmonton region botanicals.

“The spirits industry’s changing a bit,” said Kris Sustrik, 36, who runs Hansen Distillery with his wife Shayna Hansen, 30.