In mid-August I facilitated a customized webinar for the Canadian Farm Writers Federation about how the changing landscape of COVID-19 may influence the demand for Canadian-grown commodities. Following that, I spent three days in Saskatchewan, taking advantage of our domestic travel. You know I love to travel, and after a very hectic July, this was just what the doctor ordered, a trip to Canada’s fields of plenty.
On the last evening of my trip to the Prairies, Mark Pickard, president of Infraready Products in Saskatoon, who has been a champion for the local crop of purple wheat, along with Mark’s wife Patricia, met me at Stumbletown Distilling, home of purple wheat vodka. Curious about it? Let’s explore more about craft spirits on trend and the purple wheat vodka.
What Are Craft Spirits?
Although there is no formal definition of a craft spirit in Canada, most craft distilleries are independently owned and produce spirits in small batches. Following in the footsteps of craft breweries and cideries, distilleries are tapping into the locavore movement and the increased consumer desire to understand the origins of products.
Premiumisation On Trend
According to the IWSR Drink Market Analysis via BeverageDaily.com, premium-and-above spirits are forecasted to increase their global volume market share by 13% by 2024 as consumers continue to favour quality over quantity. When I was at Stumbletown Distilling, I met Craig Holland, co-owner and was happy to hear about their philosophy of using unique local ingredients to push the envelope while staying true to the traditions of artisan spirits and that they take full advantage of the abundance of fresh, premium ingredients found right there in Saskatchewan.
Purple Wheat Vodka
Stumbletown Distilling has made a vodka entirely from purple wheat grown in Saskatchewan. The distillery is the first in the world to make a vodka from the grain and has already won a Platinum (best in class) SIP Award in San Francisco in 2019. The vodka has a refreshing sweet taste with an exceptionally smooth finish. I enjoyed it when I was at Stumbletown with Mark and Patricia. I had the drink homeless by choice consisting of the purple wheat vodka, maté amaro, purple wheat bitters, house-made pineapple vodka, and toasted coconut. And then I had the vodka with only soda on the rocks. A truly Saskatchewan grain-to-glass product. I highly recommend you try it!
With new habits formed during the health crisis, I envision consumers will continue to gravitate towards local products and experiences. Using unique local ingredients like purple wheat, while staying true to the practice of artisan spirits, accelerated by international travel restrictions and fragile borders, this group of consumers want to support sustainable, job promoting businesses. Plus, they are willing to pay an increased price for premium local products like the craft sprit purple wheat vodka (although it isn’t that much of an increase, priced at $37 per 750 mL bottle, compared to the price range of other top vodkas in the world). And I fall into that group of consumers, even during the pandemic, I still want quality over quantity with most things, including my beverages – cheers!
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