The Copper Cork Distillery is pleased to announce that they will soon be opening for business in Vermilion. Partners include Todd Ree, Randy Fadden, Rod Fadden, and Tom Hartwell.
Their production line includes a steam boiler, two control panels, a 1,000 litre mash tun for grain and water (this is where enzymes are added to break starches down into simple sugars), three fermentation tanks (the mash is cooled and yeast is added for fermentation). The mash will stay in the fermentation tanks for 4 - 5 days. Once fermentation stops, the material is pumped to the still for distillation. Next to the still are two copper coloured columns with stainless steel dephlegmators on top. The dephlegmators help to purify the alcohol. The last column is where the vapors are condensed where you will see the highly concentrated alcohol running out of the parrot into collection vessels. The distillates will then be run through a charcoal filtration system, and finally put into a 200 litre proofing tank where the final product will be prepared for consumption.
“There’s a reason they use copper. Copper is very malleable; you can bend it and shape it into different vessels. Also, during the process of fermentation, bi-products of fermentation (sulphides) are produced. These sulphides can give alcohol an off flavour and cause exaggerated hangovers. The sulphides will attach to the copper and form copper sulphate which can be cleaned out later using a citric acid solution. When it comes out it can be as high as 96.5 per cent pure alcohol. You have to have special cleansers to get it any higher,” said Managing Partner/ Head Distiller, Todd Ree.
Many of the pieces in the Taproom were made by the owners and are already gathering a lot of attention. The still is named, ‘Ol’ Nellie,’ after the Fadden’s grandmother and the group plans to name other equipment as time goes on. Several local items have been incorporated in the old-fashioned and industrial decor. Hand-made items include a couple of the doors, tables, and their signature delivery truck sign. The rustic front door was modelled to look like a speakeasy from the prohibition era (which ended in 1923 in Alberta). A whisky barrel vanity, wire spool – end clock, and church pew all add to the personalized character and stories to tell.
“I think the equipment looks spectacular! This job is so perfect for me; I get to use science, art, and it’s very social. I’m gregarious by nature, I like to interact with people and I love to share the process; it’s a bit of an educational tour. It’s nice to see how many people are curious about what we are doing here, and that everyone appreciates the personal touches,” said Ree.
Their 21-day objection period ended on July 4, and their next steps include confirming with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission that they are ready for an inspection. If everything is okay, they will be granted an interim licence which will allow them to manufacture spirits but not sell. Some inventory management and reporting will have to be completed.
“In a perfect world, we’d love to be open by fair time, but this project has already been ongoing for 16-months and we will open when we are ready,” added Ree.