April 20, 2020
You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but if you wanted to judge a bottle by its label, the bottles from Bridgeland Distilling may say a lot about the company. With labels that wrap the corner of the bottle, not the front, the bottles stand out on the shelf. But the labels are about more than just the angles.
Bridgeland Distillery was started by two friends, Jacques Tremblay and Daniel Plenzik, both former engineers who first met in 2016 at a distilling workshop in the Okanagan. The pair each had dreams of one day setting up a distillery, and after meeting, they realized they both had the same goals as well as the same backgrounds. Tremblay and Plenzik partnered up.
Plenzik’s family had immigrated to Canada from Italy and moved to Calgary, setting up shop in Bridgeland. Wanting the roots set in this community to continue to grow, the duo opted to name their company after the neighbourhood and to locate here when it went from dream to reality in 2018.
“I've been making wine my entire life,” says Plenzik of his family and heritage. “Eventually I went to school and got a degree in electrical engineering and I did that for 20 years. But I had always had a passion for making wine and eventually got into distilling it into brandy and grappa.”
Those liquors are what sets Bridgeland Distillery apart from other distillers in Calgary. They don’t make vodka or gin, which is typical. Instead Plenzik and Tremblay focus on a more European selection: Bridgeland Distillery’s Moscato Brandy, premade Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail, Spolumbo’s Amaro and Limoncello are all available at Calgary-area Co-op Wine Spirits Beer stores.
“With our Limoncello, we use a different process,” explains Tremblay. “It’s brandy-based and then we take lemons and we suspend them above our brandy in the barrel and extract all the flavour but none of the bitterness.”
Bridgeland Distillery also sources ingredients as locally as possible. Corn used in its Bourbon comes from Taber, Alberta, and malted barley for a single malt Whisky comes from Penhold, Alberta.
“We also use grapes from St. Hubertus in Kelowna. They press them for us because they have a big bladder press. We transfer the juice and the grape skins here to Calgary then we ferment the juice into wine and the grape skins we ferment and then distill that into our Grappa,” reveals Plenzik.
Plenzik and Tremblay say they love their new world and have no regrets about leaving engineering jobs to become full time distillers. In a tip of their hats to their former lives, they chose an enduring symbol of Calgary civic engineering to represent their brand. Reconciliation Bridge, a truss bridge and one of the oldest in Calgary, wraps the bottles.
“If you arrange the bottles on a diagonal you can put two of them together and complete the bridge. It's kind of neat and a cool creative element.”
The bridge spans the Bow River and has connected generations of people. Fitting, then that Bridgeland Distillery aims to connect generations of Calgarians by bridging tradition with innovation in the spirits it produces.
Find Bridgeland DistilleryMoscato Brandy, premade Whisky Old Fashioned Cocktail, Spolumbo’s Amaro and Limoncello at Calgary-area Co-op Wine Spirits Beer stores.
Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail
This young three grain whisky provides a nice vanilla aroma mixed with the cloves and cardamon of the bitters. The palate provides a nice orange flavour with a hint of vanilla, while the warm finish brings the bitter touch forward.
On the nose, this brandy has distinct aroma of creme brûlée and beachwood. The palate is balanced between sweetness and acidity that matches the Moscato grapes this delicate brandy was made from. A sweet, spicy, warming finish brings it home, with a subtle lingering liquorice flavour.
On the nose, this herbal brandy liqueur is aromatic with a hint of sweet vanilla and star anise. The palate is made of bittersweet chocolate, lightly spiced with a touch of sweet caramel. The finish is mainly orange, fennel and a long lingering brightness.
This Amaro was first commissioned by five Calgary entrepreneurs in which Spolumbo’s is at the heart of their “Friday Club” where family, food and fun come first. The inspiration in developing this Amaro made in Bridgeland comes from these hard working Calgarians who have never forgotten where they came from.
A Limoncello like no other you have tasted: Bridgeland Distillery's take on Limoncello is unique with a reduction on both bitterness and sweetness to produce a well balanced and delicate product. Fresh aromas of spring apple blossoms with a touch of early summer honey combine with the acidity of the lemons and the sweetness of honey to provide a balanced palate. The finish is a light refreshing sweetness.
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