From Glacier to Glass: New Distillery and Restaurant Opens in Banff
Park Distillery is sourcing from the Rocky Mountains in the best way and serving hearty plates for after-skiing appetites.
Newly relaxed laws from the AGLC have allowed for new independent craft distilleries to start popping up in Alberta; Park Distillery on the busy main drag of Banff, Alberta, is one of the first, and only the second distillery in North America to open with a restaurant attached. (Last Best Brewing in Calgary also has an eatery, and is now distilling its own spirits as well.)
With a new slogan—”glacier to glass”—Park Distillery is literally tapping into one of the world’s best water sources; six glaciers high in the Rocky Mountains. The water they use in their spirits, which comes from these glaciers, gains minerality as it travels across rich limestone deposits. They source grain—wheat, barley and triticale—from high-altitude family farms in the Alberta foothills, which is then ground by hand in a small mill in a back room, to be mashed and distilled in small batches. “I don’t have to look far in either direction,” says master distiller Matthew Hendriks. “Everything we require is found within 100 miles from our protected town.”
In Canada, whisky must spend a minimum of three years in the barrel before it’s bottled, so there will be a bit of a wait. Meanwhile, you can pick up bottles of Park Vodka—they launched their first batch in October—a clean-tasting 80 proof (40% ABV) vodka they also infuse with Madagascar vanilla beans, chilies (which makes an amazing Caesar) and espresso beans—in the tiny store at the front of the distillery. They also just launched their white rye—the spirit they put into barrels sourced from Jack Daniels to make their whisky—which can also be bought by the bottle. (Free distillery tours happen every afternoon at 3:30 p.m.)
The 175-seat restaurant that surrounds the glass-enclosed shiny brass stills they sourced from a small town in Germany is après-ski and campfire-inspired; wood-fired, spit-roasted and smoky. Think cheese and whisky fondue, flaming Oka raclette, dirty fries with pork baked beans, odd bits and cheese curds, wood-fired lamb chops, tinfoil trout and a “mess hall standard” barbecue platter made for sharing. In the summer, the glass garage-style doors at the front open up to allow the dining room to spill out onto the street. With Chef Liz Gagnon at the helm, it’s a delicious new option for those who have worked up an appetite on the ski hill or hiking trail.
Park Distillery, 219 Banff Ave., Banff, AB, 403-762-5314, parkdistillery.com