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Edmonton distillery teams up with NAIT to make non-dairy liqueur

Oat Milk Cream Liqueur made by Hansen Distillery in Edmonton. (Brandon Lynch, CTV News Edmonton) Oat Milk Cream Liqueur made by Hansen Distillery in Edmonton. (Brandon Lynch, CTV News Edmonton)
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An Edmonton distillery has crafted one of its most challenging products yet.

"I think that's the main key why you don't see a lot of them on the market is because it's just not something you can throw together," said Kristopher Sustrik, Hansen Distillery co-owner and master distiller.

That product is a non-dairy liqueur – a relatively un-tapped market.

"The options that were available just weren't appetizing, well at least to us anyways," said Shayna Hansen, co-owner.

"The ones that I've had I just wasn't a fan of," added Sustrik.

But with customers continually asking for a non-dairy liqueur option, Sustrik set out to make it.

"The very first batch I made 60 litres of pure gum is what it was. It was so discouraging," said Sustrik.

That's when they turned to NAIT's Centre for Culinary Innovation for help.

"A lot of those plant-based liqueurs and just drinks that you see at the grocery store, they have a label that says 'Shake before you consume', and that's because over time those plant-based proteins actually start to separate out," said Haley Donadeo, a chef and research assistant at NAIT's Centre for Culinary Innovation.

"Alcohol speeds that up. So our goal was to help Hansen produce a product that's smooth and stays in suspension at a longer period of time," Donadeo added.

"I can make vodka all day long. But the conversion from oat flour to oat milk is proprietary obviously, and then going from an oat milk to an oat cream liqueur with our flavouring, lots of separation, turned it into gum a few times, so multiple trials and errors," said Sustrik.

All of the products in the Oat Milk Cream Liqueur are from Alberta.

"Alberta oats, 100 per cent. We're also using an Alberta oat producer to make us the flour to my specific specifications, making the vodka right here and then everything that we can get local," Sustrik said.

It's a process that took the distillery four years to perfect, and still Hansen said their non-dairy liqueur is the first in Alberta.

"We didn't want to put anything out that wasn't 100 per cent, so we were willing to sacrifice not being the first to make sure it was what we considered the perfect recipe," said Hansen.

They said it was lactose intolerant customers who helped with taste testing along the way.

"Seeing them happy and satisfied and not having to just settle with a product was totally fulfilling for us," said Sustrik.

He said they're already thinking about products for people with other types of allergies or intolerances.

"This has opened up a big door for us and we already have some stuff in the mix," he said.

"I wanted something that was going to stand out in the market, something that was going to be totally unique and blow the doors off somebody else," Sustrik said.

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