By Constance Hill
Ancient water from 12,000 years ago has formed icebergs and found it’s way into the cocktail hour. Whether you like your martini straight up, with a twist, maybe a cosmopolitan or you prefer your vodka neat; Mother Nature is serving one of her oldest recipes.
The earths’ snow, 12,000 years ago was truly pure, immaculate, untouched and pristine. In the Canadian Arctic, this snow froze and compacted into enormous glacial walls, shielded and protected for thousands of years, avoiding all impurities from the outside world. Today, thousands of years later, these icebergs are being carefully harvested as pure as when they were created and used as the water source in vodka.
These majestic icebergs are harvested to produce a triple distilled natural grain spirit made from Ontario grown sweet corn. Barges and tugboats harvest the small icebergs broken off from large icebergs. These are called growlers and they have drifted south from Canada’s Arctic, through the North Atlantic and down the east coast of Newfoundland. The iceberg gathering occurs offshore and gathers ice that has already broken off the berg.
“Iceberg Alley”, as the region is known, is visited by tourists from all over the world. The local tourism has grown dramatically with the worldwide acclaim that “Iceberg Vodka” has brought to Newfoundland. The iceberg harvesting has provided much needed financial support to the province.
Canadian Iceburg Vodka produced 120,000 cases of vodka distilled with iceberg water last year, about $30 million worth. The company is allowed to harvest up to 500,000 tonnes of iceberg annually, equal to the size of one iceberg- one of the smaller ones. Iceberg Vodka is a gold medal winner in the World Spirits Championships held in Chicago.
The prestige for Newfoundland in producing the world’s number one vodka brings international attention to Canada and particularly, Newfoundland and tourists flock to the province to see and taste the results. Many full time jobs have been created and the industry is continuing to grow as iceberg water is launched and distributed this Fall to the U.S., England, and Asia.