Eau Claire Single Malt Whisky Gets The Draft Horse Treatment

There is a push among a small subsection of craft distillers, such as Coppersea out of New York, to make use of “heritage” techniques which harken back to more of a pre-industrial style of farming and distilling. Up in Alberta, Canada you are seeing a bit of the same thing with Eau Claire Distillery, which is turning to draft horses to help in planting malting barley for its upcoming new single malt whisky.

The as yet unnamed Eau Claire single malt whisky, which has a planned debut of 2017, is distilled from malt barley grown in a part of Canada much more known for its rye grain contributions to whisky. There is apparently a fair amount of barley grown there as well, however, though most of it is not done via the horse pulled equipment method. Eau Claire is a believer in this antiquated technique, however, and to that end is holding this weekend what’s billed as “the biggest working draft horse operation in Alberta in at least 50 years.”

Eau Claire Single Malt Whisky

Some of the Eau Claire horses (image via Eau Claire)

Plans call for the distillery, working in conjunction with Alberta Carriage Supply, to hold a “spring planting spectacle” at the historic Bar U Ranch. It is said more than

50 draft horses from all over the province, representing the key breeds of Western Canada, including Suffolk Punches, Percherons and Belgians, will plough and seed 25 acres of land using traditional, vintage-style farming equipment.

The resulting crop will be harvested 100 days later to form the basis for part of the new whisky being released next year.

“For Eau Claire, a core component of our belief in premium spirits is our ability to access product straight from the farm,” said distillery founder and president David Farran in a statement. “Through horse farming our distillery is connected to the land in the ultimate ‘farm to glass’ experience – and to our knowledge we are the only distillery doing so in North America and maybe the world.”

We are preserving knowledge of farming that has been lost to a new generation, and more so, we are able to work with some of the most beautiful and majestic animals on the planet – the gentle giant work horses bred to work the fields.”


Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...