By Meighan Makarchuk, Whisky Weekend Host, Edible Canada
Imagine sipping rare Canadian whiskies by a bonfire at midnight out on a frozen lake in Canada’s North while eating decadent warm desserts made with chocolate and local wild foraged berries, and then, the Northern Lights appear and dance in the sky above your head. Well, that’s what to expect when you join us on our Yukon Whisky Weekends!
It’s surreal. The combination of local gourmet food paired with whisky in a beautiful natural setting has an amazing synergy that no photos can do justice. This is bucket list material on steroids, and last weekend 12 lucky travellers got to experience just that, after a full day of other Northern culinary adventures no less.
Part of what we do at Edible Canada as Canada’s largest culinary tourism company, is connect people with Canadian regions and cultures through the ingredients and culinary traditions that originate here. We bring culinary products to customers through our bistro and retail shops, but one of our absolute favourite things to do is bring people to culinary destinations across the nation.
Last weekend we journeyed North to the Yukon on our most recent culinary tour. This is our third annual Whisky Weekend in Whitehorse, one of our favourite culinary destinations. When most people think of Canada’s North, food is not the first thing that comes to their mind. We want to change that. The Northern culinary scene is exploding, the abundance of unique local ingredients is incredible. Flavourful game meat, wild foraged mushrooms, berries and greens from the boreal forest, fresh fish from lakes and rivers, combined with multicultural influences.
Our culinary adventure actually starts in the air, before we even arrive in the Yukon, as we are fortunate to fly with Air North, Yukon’s Airline. Great food is a tradition aboard Air North and even on this short two hour flight from Vancouver to Whitehorse all passengers receive a complimentary meal, drink service, mint service, and best of all… warm, fresh cookies baked right on the plane.
Once off the plane our guests were transported to Inn on the Lake, our exceptional accommodation and co-host on this tour. Inn on the Lake is a very unique boutique lodge, located 60 km South-East of Whitehorse on the shores of Marsh Lake, it has been listed by National Geographic Traveller as one of the top places in the world to stay. Born and raised in the Yukon, Inn on the Lake proprietor Carson Schiffkorn built the inn himself and has been running it for 20 years.
The impressive log structure gets its very unique character from its cathedral ceiling and expansive deck areas overlooking Marsh Lake; and equally from the jaunty ambiance inside highlighted by its massive timbers of Engelmann spruce. We gathered together on the deck overlooking the lake for our “Whisky Weekend Welcome” toast – the first of many whisky toasts over the next three days.
Our whisky partner on these Whisky Weekends is Corby Spirit and Wine Ltd., they send master mixologist Dave Mitton, their Global Whisky Ambassador (yes, that’s his actual job title!) with us on this adventure, along with plenty of rare, unique Canadian whiskies to sample. Corby’s whisky history dates back to the 1850’s. The are best known for their J.P. Wiser’s whiskies, but increasingly so for their popular Lot No. 40 all rye whisky, their Pike Creek double barreled whisky, and their innovative Gooderham and Worts whisky – which just won the title of World’s Best Canadian Blended Whisky at the World Whisky Awards last month.
Dave puts a lot of thought into the whisky parings for our weekend. At our welcome dinner he paired Lot No. 40, Pike Creek and Gooderham and Worts with our assortment of Northern delicacies. Pickles made by Carson at Inn on the Lake from vegetables grown in the Yukon, local charcuterie, Yukon elk and bison sausages, Asian inspired baos and dumplings, and much more.
No one will ever go hungry on one of our culinary tours!
Nothing beats a Marsh Lake sunset!
We like to keep things on this tour a bit unexpected, each year we do things a bit differently and all our guests are told is that over the three days and two nights in the Yukon they will be having iconic Northern outdoor adventures, gourmet food, many laughs, and plenty of whisky.
Here’s a few highlights from our Saturday “adventure day.”
After diner we relaxed, chatted, laughed, then moved outside for a little Northern Lights watching paired with desserts, and more whisky of course!
The next day we brunched, and then set off for more adventures.
Visit to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve to see some of the Yukon’s native animals and learn about the conservation initiatives in place to ensure they stay healthy and abundant in the wild.
There were many memories made on this trip, we packed in well over a week’s worth of activities into one weekend, but for many the most iconic memory will be that evening out on frozen Marsh Lake after our epic full day of adventure, when the sun set and Inn on the Lake was engulfed in a perfect darkness impossible to experience in cities. Absent the light pollution of urban living, the sky above us glittered with Yukon gold dust, and the whisky flowed freely as mother nature lit up the sky with her own light show.
Sound like the trip for you? We will be announcing the dates and accepting bookings for Whisky Weekend 2018 shortly. For inquiries or to be notified when tickets go on sale please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can’t wait until next year you may be interested in our next Northern culinary tour – Across The Top Of Canada June 16th to 23rd, 2017. Join Edible Canada President Eric Pateman on what promises to be a once in a lifetime trip which will showcase the best of the Canadian North on our nation’s 150th Anniversary. Expect sightseeing and truly authentic northern cultural experiences as we fly across the top of the country on our own private 737 jet. Chefs from across Canada will be collaborating with local and indigenous chefs, farmers, hunters and artisans at each of our stops to create meals that will truly showcase the best of each region. With a full concierge team on board to take care of all your needs, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore and discover Canada’s North including flight-seeing, intimate dinners, cooking classes, hiking, wellness, fishing, hunting, photography classes, art classes and much more. Please visit AcrossTheTopOfCanada.com for more information.