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Central Alberta distillery earns accolades with award-winning gin

Alberta Beverage Awards named Sundre's Greenwood Distilleries’ Party Line Gin Best in Class, coming out ahead of a dozen contenders

SUNDRE – The owners of a local distillery are toasting the success of one of their gin recipes that recently outshone the competition in the 2023 Alberta Beverage Awards.

Judges tasked with sampling spirits during the 11th edition of the awards, which are presented by Culinaire Magazine, determined that Sundre-based Greenwood Distilleries’ signature Party Line Gin won Best in Class with 93 points, outscoring 12 contenders.

The award earned another feather on the cap of Greenwood Distilleries, which opened in 2019, after their Roundabout Gin earned accolades under the Judges Selection in the 2021 Alberta Beverage Awards.

“We’ve always really liked the Alberta Beverage Awards for their methodology,” said Owen Petersen, co-owner and founder.

“It’s all pretty rigorous blind tasting,” said Petersen, adding a fairly small percentage of entries actually end up receiving an award.

There are plenty of award programs out there, and some essentially allow participants to just buy their way into recognition, he said.

“But this isn’t one of those,” he said about the Alberta Beverage Awards, which despite its namesake considers contenders from an international pool of producers.

Taking into account the quality of the competition, Petersen said they certainly weren’t expecting to take home any awards.

“So, we were really, really over the moon,” he said, also expressing a level of surprise mixed with excitement.

“That particular gin, we quite liked and we made it on a different still,” he said, adding this batch was prepared by a distiller in Cochrane with a slightly different setup.

Barely containing his enthusiasm for the process involved, Petersen confessed, “I get really nerdy here about how gin is made!”

“We put the same recipe in a new still, and it changed how the flavours were extracted a little bit and it really balanced everything out,” he elaborated.

“But the plants, the botanicals and the spirit that we put in the still was exactly the same recipe as we made before,” he said, adding the Party Line Gin was introduced in 2021.

“This was only the sixth batch that we made of that gin,” he said.

“There are three botanicals in that gin that we harvest ourselves; that were all harvested around Sundre,” he said, adding those ingredients are dandelion roots, fireweed leaf, and Yarrow flower.

“They’re wild harvested,” he said. “The three botanicals we harvest are really prolific plants around the Sundre area.”

However, Petersen doesn’t randomly pull dandelions from just anywhere.

“I’ll harvest a bit of it out of my backyard because I don’t use any pesticides or herbicides in our yard,” he said, adding they also pull dandelions from his sister’s garden, which is not sprayed with chemicals either.

“Every time my dad picks a dandelion, he’ll kind of put it aside for me and I can get the roots.”

The other five botanical ingredients included in the recipe – such as citrus peel – are purchased, he said.

“Obviously, we don’t grow orange trees around here.”  

The Alberta Beverage Awards does not feature a formal ceremony gala component, with the winners instead being announced in Culinaire Magazine’s publication and receiving medals by mail.

Distilleries submit their favourite recipes to see how their spirits stack up against others. Petersen said they submitted just the one gin.

“We’ve only ever launched two gin recipes,” he said.

Clarifying for the record the party responsible for conjuring up the prize-winning concoction, he praised Sundre resident and business partner Dan Groom as the brains behind the recipe.

“He’s made two gin recipes for us and both have been award winning,” Petersen said.

“He’s got a pretty great palate and gin recipe designing ability.”

Greenwood Distilleries is locally owned and operated by Owen and Bronwyn Petersen in partnership with Dan and Dallas Groom.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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