We were privileged to be featured recently in Canadian Cowboy Country magazine!
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It’s becoming increasingly prevalent to consider source (local) and company (niche) in our world. In a sense, our western culture has perhaps always leaned more towards a high standard of craftsmanship, than an overload of cheap trappings. We cherish one well-made bit crafted from a local artisan, over 10 made overseas. A pair of chaps so beautifully constructed they must be passed on from mother to daughter. And so on.
I’ve as much as possible refined and practiced the same criteria in my kitchen and lifestyle. I’d rather have less, and enjoy quality than stack up on bulk buys of ridiculously processed foods.
It took baker Kamla McGonigal of Calgary, Alberta, four years to perfect her recipe. Determination, baby, that’s what it took. The fourth generation Calgary native wanted to use whisky, locally distilled at Highwood Distiller’s, from grain at nearby farms as one of the main ingredients in her delectable cakes. Finally after countless hours over an oven, McGonigal developed one of the best tasting and most unique baked-goods available to those with discerning palates – the Alberta Whisky Cake.
Using only the finest locally-sourced ingredients, Alberta Whisky Cakes offer a seductive flavor. You will be able to smell it’s sweet, distinct goodness before you will ever taste it, but as whisky advocates know – this is a desirable trait.
So, as I’m working through my Christmas list of gift-giving and thank-you’s – both personal and corporate, Alberta Whisky Cakes in their delightful western-styled packaging are a top pick. The beautiful bundts are simple to order, and because of the dense, whisky intinction, keep well through shipping and into the Christmas season.
Find Alberta Whisky Cake on Facebook or, here.
On June 20 2013, massive floods devastated many parts of southern Alberta. Here are a few quick follow-ups to some a couple of our market vendors who were affected and how they couldn’t have done it all without the support of you, the loyal customer.
The massive flood of 2013 ripped through High River destroyed the bakery that made our cakes. The entire inventory, supplies, equipment and the entire building were annihilated. Our whisky producer in High River, Highwood Distillers, was also closed for a few months.
Unexpectedly, I received an enormous number of adamant demands from many past and potential AWC consumers to ‘get those cakes back!’ These much-appreciated requests provided the emotional energy, clarity and courage I needed to pick up and start over again.
AWC stopped producing cakes on June 20, but the behind the scenes action didn’t stop. We co-hosted a very successful contest with Western Horse Review for the next featured artist, made a number of changes to the labels, seals, delivery containers and got some processes worked out to ensure cake quality consistently remains at the very highest.
The baker equipped and restocked her initial Calgary in-home commercial bakery. We worked out details with new retailers and, since November, the cakes are available at Calgary Co-op stores in Calgary, High River, Airdrie and Strathmore.
Exactly four months after the flood closed AWC, we picked up 24 test cakes from the interim bakery. Looks like we’re back in the saddle.
As I look back at 2013, we were completely closed for a third of the year, yet our annual sales were almost exactly 50 per cent more than in 2012.
Thank you to our fellow Albertans for their unwavering and loyal support. -Kamla McGonigal, albertawhiskycake.com.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this fun contest – the nominators, artists, voters & Western Horse Review.
I had a lot of fun with this!
A few weeks ago we announced the Art, Whisky & Cake Contest. It was your chance to nominate an up-and-coming artist as Alberta Whisky Cake’s newest Unbridled Spirit selection. It’s been fun working with the Whisky Baker, Kamla McGonigal, and her company’s mission of promoting the western culture, especially in light of the recent flooding devastation in Alberta. The theme fits beautifully with the “unfolding the real West” mission statement of Western Horse Review, and besides, who could resist partnering with such an enthusiastic entrepreneur as Kam.
Check back here for the original post, but the gist of the contest is that each Alberta Whisky Cake comes with an exclusive AWC Unbridled Spirits certificate, which can be presented directly to a select list of AWC artists to receive $35 off of your purchase price, on an individual piece of art valued at $100 or more. Viewers were charged with nominating their favorite artists to be the next Unbridled Spirit. These artists are folks who are involved heavily in the arts, and have not yet become renowned or rewarded for their exceptional dedication to their creative work.
Kam was charged with choosing three finalists, and via this post and Facebook, you get to determine one final Unbridled Spirit winner.
When she wasn’t testing out new recipes in her kitchen, Kam poured over all the nominations and began to make her choices. I could tell she was having a difficult time; given all the amazing talent that had been dished up, choosing three finalists was going to be difficult.
Sometime during the process she wondered in an e-mail to me. . . ” if I should just go with using ALL of these (love them all!)”
No, Kam, you have to choose three. Those are the rules.
So, she did. She picked three artists, and I’m going to show you a piece of each of their work here. In the comment section, go ahead and vote on your favorite. The bonus: all original nominations notes and all votes will go into a hat and we’ll draw a winner for an Alberta Whisky Cake.
I suppose I can’t really vote, but if I could, I would be all over this for that reason alone.
Meet the finalists:
Take Your Eight and Shove It by Karen Coe.
Karen Coe is a Lethbridge, Alberta artist who recently received the distinction of having two of her pieces juried into the prestigious Calgary Stampede Art Auction.
Ranch Branding by Julia Palmer.
Julia Palmer is a photographer and rancher who lives in southern Alberta. Her subject matter is primarily cattle, cowboys and the changing seasons.
Between Classes by Heather Gessell.
Heather Gessell is a fine artist from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with a focus on pets, horses and vintage cars.
There you have it, three talented western artists.
Kamla McGonigal still has her notes from ten years ago when she first envisioned a uniquely Albertan dessert, one that visitors would want to take home and share with others. Her desire was to create a specialty food item like smoked salmon (BC) and maple syrup (Quebec & Ontario) that one immediately associated with the region.
Kamla is a mother, emergency nurse and a beginner drummer living in southern Alberta. There really was no reason to embark on this project in 2003. Her life was busy enough, yet she was fuelled, by this bubbling passion, to create a quality cake. With no family recipe to fall back on, she started from scratch – like all the best cakes.
Over a period of four years, Kamla collaborated with some partners on the creation. It needed to be an alcohol-based cake, like a fruitcake, to ensure there would be a long shelf life. The recipe ingredients should be as local as possible and Canadian where practical. The process of recipe development, testing notes and corralling input from family and friends as tasters, would culminate on Wednesday evenings with a meeting to compare their findings.
In 2008, Kamla had a tough choice to make, the recipe was close to perfection, but her partners were unable to continue with the project. Drop it or move forward? Kamla describes herself as focused, disciplined, passionate and hard working.
She moved forward.
April 2010, Alberta Whisky Cake (AWC), was officially launched with this mission: ‘to produce a world-class product that every Albertan would be proud to give or receive’.
Alberta Whisky Cakes are made with fresh ingredients from a list of quality suppliers:
1. Highwood Distillers – rye whisky (High River, Alberta)
2. High quality chocolate
3. Canadian maple syrup and walnuts
4. Dairy butter and 100% Canadian canola oil (Canola Harvest)
5. Flour – milled in southern Alberta (Ellison Milling Company)
6. Packaging – a ‘hatbox’ design made using recycled paper and eco-friendly black dye (X-treme Packaging)
Since Kamla launched her company, she has managed to attract the attention of local food media – they always know a good thing when they taste one! Some of the proceeds from AWC are directed to supporting at-risk youth programs and emerging local artists. Artist cards featuring their work and contact information are included in every cake package.
The June 2013 flood was devastating for so many in southern Alberta including Alberta Whisky Cake. The bakery that AWC uses Katie’s Cakery Bakery located in High River was destroyed. At the time of writing, the best-case scenario for the bakery’s resumption of operations was still 4-6 weeks away. The whisky supplier, Highwood Distillers hopes to re-open in October although the date is uncertain, by mid-August they had already logged 30,000 hours of clean-up work. In addition, AWC lost all of its inventory, packaging and even the bundt baking pans.
The flood waters have receded, and the hard work of rebuilding is underway, more than ever Kamla believes in her company’s celebration of Alberta’s unique values: solid, bold, rich, authentic and spirited.
The delicious maple (The Malted Maple) and chocolate (The Whisky Runner) cakes will be available soon enough. And there may even be new flavours in the future too, such as cocktail inspired Whisky Lime (like a whisky sour) and White Lightening (secret spices – with an aroma to drive you crazy).
Admittedly the Best Cake You’ll Ever Taste!
As a non-regular whiskey drinker, my initial approach to the idea of a ‘whisky cake’ was optimistically guarded. However, cake itself always carries the promise of a sweet return. After the first bite of Alberta Whisky Cake two years ago, I’ll gladly eat my initial thoughts every time I taste the rich, melody of taste that wraps you in a warm and mellow whisky-flavoured blanket. The reaction to AWC is consistent – it is the best cake you’ll ever eat…
Thanks to Kamla, and her generosity, I had the pleasure of sampling both the maple and chocolate whiskey cakes. They are absolutely delicious. These cakes are unique and I have never tasted anything like them before. What makes the product so special is not just the amazing flavour but the fact that it is a true Alberta product, a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Alberta and to Kamla herself. I have given the cakes to friend and families and we are all in agreement…not only is it d…
The Whisky Pioneer – What else can you call the visionary who combines fine Alberta ingredients – butter, flour, sugar, canola oil and let’s not forget the Whisky from Highwood Distillers. It’s brilliant! A completely Albertan product down to the packaging which includes the promotion of aspiring local artists.
Unique, of the highest quality, completely Albertan, just the right amount of sweet and sauce, full-bodied richness, fantastic with coffee, a treat in beautiful packaging, and I LOVE the Alberta Whisky Cake too! In Maple, of course.
Kamla McGonigal is one of the most intelligent, business-savvy, hardest working, compassionate and philanthropic woman I know. AWC effectively epitomizes Alberta through high-quality local ingredients from a unique, Albertan concept.
My favourite is the maple flavour…so delicious! I love giving a maple or chocolate cake as a gift to clients, friends and family who live outside of Alberta. A classy and unique way to showcase our province. I also order several cakes over the holidays to bring to parties – always the hit of the party
I was so pleased to have the opportunity to visit with you. You are an amazing girl with such a great personality and charisma. My mother and I would love to compliment you on your wonderful Whisky Cake. The flavor and texture was fantastic. We are positive that you will be able to market your cakes with great success. Please let us know when we will be able to purchase your cakes because we want to be able to help promote them for you.
This is my idea for a consummate celebration, sharing my 65th birthday with family & friends, two of your cakes “stuffed” with silver dollars & in Galt Ontario (my birthplace that no longer exists). The joy is we get to consumer the cakes also….And, they LOVE these AWC cakes in Ontario.
I for one never go for cake but had the opportunity when Kam gave me one of her Alberta Whisky Cake’s. If I wasn’t a cake lover I surely am know ! 3 days later I had eaten the whole thing. Fabulous !! Should be a part of the Alberta Heritage.
My family has been enjoying these fabulous cakes since before there was a set recipe for them. They are delicious and each flavor so unique. My favorite is and always will be the chocolate. We have had one for Christmas every year and are starting to incorporate it as a tradition. However, I believe the biggest impact this cake made was when Kamla (Owner of AWC) offered two cakes to our fundraiser for my daughters school playground program. The cakes were used as a silent auction prize and went …
Kamla Hari and AWC have it all figured out.
The first thing that struck me was the moist texture coupled with a rich flavor containing subtle yet distinct hints of whiskey. Either of these qualities alone would make for a wonderful cake; together they make magic. Combine all this with Kamla and AWC’s efforts to support local artists and farming and you’re doing yourself and the world a favor by enjoying an AWC.
I was impressed with the creativity and thought that went into your cakes when we first met at the Food & Beverage Canada seminar and think that they bring a lot to the table so to speak. The cake itself is fabulous and won’t have any problems finding repeat purchase customers. I really think that this Alberta made and hand crafted product should also be presented in a high end manner. I love your idea of supporting local artists and I think each box or package should represent a piece of an …
The Alberta Whisky Cake has become a Christmas tradition for both my family and my company. The cake makes an impressive Christmas or New Year’s Day dessert and the beautiful packaging makes it the perfectly unique corporate gift for my staff and clients. The inclusion of artist profiles with the cake and the support artists receive from this company make it a great tie in to Routes, that also works hard to give local artists their moment to shine. Well done and thank you for showing the world h…
Yumm . decadently delicious! Kamla, you’re fabulous … we love your creations.
Alberta Whisky Cake and it’s creator Kam are the perfect ambassadors for Alberta and the Millarville Farmers’ Market. Delicious.
Kam is the most energetic & passionate person I have ever known – and with everything she does.
AWC – This cake is the absolute best cake ever!!
Kam – Intelligent, thoughtful , vibrant. A thoroughly delightful person, she inspires us to be our best because of her zest for life!!
The Afterglow: Like the mellow feeling you get after enjoying a fine whisky cocktail, you reflect on the experience of Alberta Whisky Cake and you can’t help but realize that you’ve done more than simply enjoy a piece of cake. You’ve helped support and promote Alberta’s growing arts and culture movement. You are left in the afterglow of being a part of something important — something that makes you proud to be connected to Alberta and her world-renowned natural resources, including Alberta Whisk…
I feel I have a unique perspective on the Alberta Whisky Cake phenomenon as I was a very willing guinea pig through the testing phase of the process. I have first hand experience in viewing the commitment of Kam in putting together a fantastic product. I have taken her cakes to many staff pot luck functions and have received rave reviews. Combine this with her commitment to her dream of helping young people through a music program funded through the proceeds of this endeavour.
The hard work and …
Your cakes are second to none. We sampled them with the Maverick’s group and everyone was absolutely thrilled with the product. They especially liked the boxes
The Alberta Whisky Cake product has been a huge hit with many of my corporate clients! Not only is the product kept to a high standard but interacting with Kam is always a great experience
Thank you Kam for connecting Artists and Collectors in a unique way. I admire your appreciation of beauty and passion for sharing it with the world