The results are in and Park Distillery is pleased to announce its Classic Vodka just received the honourable title of Best of Class at the 2017 SIP Awards.
This prestigious annual event that salutes superior spirits from around the world also awarded Park Distillery’s Glacier Rye, Barrel Aged Gin, Alpine Dry Gin, and Vanilla Vodka with a gold medal, while the distillery’s Espresso Vodka took home a silver medal.
It’s an amazing accomplishment considering Park Distillery only opened its doors in Banff on June 1 in 2015, with the vodka becoming available for purchase the following October.
“For it to be within two years is an amazing feat, we definitely have a lot of good input from having the best grain in the world, and then our water source here is definitely the best. Then it comes down to hard work, practice and repetition,” said Park Distillery Master Distiller Matt Hendriks.
“It was exciting and I was nervous to send all of the products into a global spirit competition. There’s lots of local and regional ones, but then to send it out to where the world enters was a big thing. Then to find out we received best in class platinum for our vodka, and gold for four others and silver for the espresso vodka was pretty exciting and nerve-racking.”
The SIP Awards is looked upon as one of the current three major global competitions, along with the New York International Spirits Awards and the Berlin World Spirits Awards, and describes itself as the only international spirits competition levelling the playing field for established brands and newcomers alike by enlisting consumers as judges.
SIP remains steadfast in its goal of providing one of the most reliable measures of beverage quality rating in the world by delivering the opinions, thoughts, and voices of consumers to the general public.
Hendriks credits the success of Park’s small-batch mountain-made product, such as the Classic Vodka, to a “glacier-to-glass” approach. This term refers to the quality ingredients that are found in close proximity to Banff National Park, namely the glacier-fed water that originates from Bow Lake – something Hendriks calls “pure Rocky Mountain H20.”
The distillery’s water originates at six glaciers high in the Rocky Mountains and gains minerality as it travels across rich limestone deposits. Grain is sourced from family farms in the Alberta foothills. Distillery staff hand-mill, hand-mash and hand-distill to preserve the purity of ingredients and produce in small batches.
“We also entered the San Francisco Spirit Awards in January, and we won four awards there. Then we ended up walking out with five at the SIP Awards, which is incredible,” said Park Distillery co-owner Stavros Karlos.
“It was very emotional for us after five years of planning and execution. It shows we did the right thing with commitment to quality paying off and that’s what we’re all about.
“Matt put in so much effort in order to get these products to where they are today.”
Park Distillery also invested in a state-of-the art copper distillation apparatus that was brought over from Germany in 2015, which is prominently displayed inside near the main bar.
“This was big news for us and we feel like this win is not only helping put Banff on the map for distilling, but the province as a whole,” said Hendriks.
“Right now Canadian distillers are doing some pretty remarkable things, but Alberta is leading the charge in this field, especially when you consider that fact that two of the winners of the ‘Best of Class’ accolade at the SIP Awards are based in the province.”
Park Distillery’s Barrel Aged Gin and Alpine Dry Gin both received gold respectively, as well, with Hendriks again chalking it up to quality ingredients.
“The spruce tips we use in it definitely gives it some liveliness, pop and citrus,” he said. “It is the same spruce that’s grown in the park, but obviously we can’t pick it from the park.
“But on Crown land out in the Foothills is the same indigenous spruce that we’re using. Next year I’m hoping we’re going to enter into Berlin.”
Not ones to rest on its laurels, Park Distillery, in celebration of Canada 150, will release 150 commemorative bottles of Quebec maple rye whiskey, labeled with Banff’s historic park gates on Canada Day.
When Hendriks was asked how one would go about purchasing one of the commemorative bottles, he advised, “Be here right at 11 a.m. and good luck.”