Hockey Central is looking to provide Sylvan Lake with some of the most uniquely local spirits.
On February 22, Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery held a tasting at Hockey Central which showcased uniquely Albertan gins and vodkas – which are sourced right from local makers.
“We are a new distillery based in Lacombe, right next to Blind Man Brewery,” Sales representative for Old Prairie, Steve Dick said. “We want to share our product a bit, let people try it out to see what they think and let them know where they can find us.”
While most Albertans are now keenly aware of the craft beer revolution taking off in Alberta, they may not be aware of the explosion of craft distilleries appearing throughout the province as well.
“It has really taken off in the US recently and craft distilleries are definitely coming to Alberta,” Dick said. “We are not the first by any means. We saw an opening and niche and our head distiller wanted to do something a bit different.”
Old Prairie Sentinel has only been open since January 31 and interest has been steadily growing, coinciding with the tastings, which forge new relationships with liquor stores and pubs throughout Central Alberta.
“I think it’s absolutely key for our success,” Dick said regarding the creation of local relationships. “We try to source our products locally. Our malt comes from Alix – which is the greatest grain malt in the world and we are fortunate to have them in our back pocket. That’s a real privilege.”
“We are Central Albertans and being able to provide something locally is pretty awesome,” he added.
Dick attributed the growth in craft breweries and distilleries to a changing consumer.
“I think people are getting more mature in their tastes, which is why craft brewing has had so much success,” he said. “We feel like we are on that level as well. Our products are different than what people are used to – which is for a reason. We put our own spin on it. People have fine tuned their tastes and are picking out subtleties.”
To encapsulate changing tastes, Old Prairie Sentinels lead distiller Rob Gugin hopes to continually follow the lead of his consumers.
“Our head distillers background was in brewing, which he did for a long time,” Dick said. “A lot of the principles are similar but their are differences. We are learning as we go and the tastings are a great opportunity to gather feedback. We have gained a lot from them as well as from our website where we have encouraged people to try our products and also to try out their own mixes.”
The creation of drink mixes has been a key learning tool for Old Prairie Sentinel and is relying on the expertise of those who mix drinks on a regular basis.
“Bartenders have a great skill set and it is amazing what they can come up with,” Dick said. “You end up with amazing drinks at then end that blows you away. We encourage them to send in their recipes to our website. We have had some interesting feedback already and some things that I would never think to combine.”
If you would like more information on Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery or where you can purchase their products, you can log on to www.opsd.ca.
“We are new, located in Lacombe and we are being offered in a few different liquor stores,” Dick said, adding “Tonight is all about Hockey Central and sharing our product with Sylvan Lake.”