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For the first time in seven years, a blind panel of judges from across the country awarded Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year to an Alberta-based distillery, among a field of nearly 300 entries representing more than 80 small-scale spirits producers from 10 provinces and territories. Mountain Pass Whisky becomes the second whisky to win the top Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition (CASC) award.

“After many years of positive trends, it’s now clear that superior, world-class whiskies are being produced by artisan distillers in every part of the country,” said Alex Hamer, founder and executive director of Artisan Distillers Canada, which produces the annual competition. “Based in the city of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, The Fort Distillery has demonstrated they’re one of the bright new lights in the Canadian distilling sector. From their humble beginnings in 2018, they’ve signalled that Alberta’s artisan distilling community can now produce the calibre of mature products we’re used to seeing in places like B.C., Ontario and Quebec.”

The 2024 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year is a single-grain whisky made from 70 per cent malted barley and 30 per cent corn, and aged for 40 months. According to the CASC judges’ notes, Mountain Pass Whisky features pumpernickel bread, fennel, root beer spices on the nose, with “flavours of malt, hot honey, salted pretzels, oak spice, citrus zest, and toast, and finishes spicy but juicy with fruity flavour.”

The 2024 CASC results were also notable for strong showings from two Quebec distilleries, which each came away with multiple Best in Class awards: Alpha Tango Spirits, based in Val-d’Or, won in the Flavoured Gin and Alternative Rum categories, and Distillerie Mitis, based in Mont Joli, was crowned for its Eau de Vie and Liqueur.

In addition to this year’s spirit and bitters sensory awards, CASC introduced Business and Community Awards to bring attention to the outstanding work Canada’s artisan distilleries are doing in their communities across the country.

See the complete results in all categories at artisandistillers.ca/2024-results.

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