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The Rock Bottom for Icebergs

Zoe D'Amato at the Iceberg Vodka Distillery, Newfoundland

Twelve thousand years before bartenders started serving up frosty vodka and tonics, the principle ingredient of an unusual Canadian liquor had already begun its formation. The aptly named Iceberg  Vodka is the only vodka in the world made from icebergs, a source of water so pure that contaminants are undetectable, even in parts per quadrillion. Every spring the Iceberg Vodka Corporation (IVC) harvests tonnes of glacial ice gathered off Newfoundland’s east coast, from the region’s famous Iceberg Alley, and processes the bounty at their facility in St John’s. The iceberg water is blended with alcohol that is triple-distilled from Ontario sweet corn. It’s the purity of the iceberg water that lends the vodka its clean finish, a taste that has IVC vodka top marks at prestigious international tasting events.

Founded in 1994, the company began gathering its first icebergs a year later. During harvesting, the physical challenge of trying to haul a 3-5 tonne chunk of hard ice onto a fishing boat are immense. Some icebergs weigh in at an astounding 500 million tonnes. However, the IVC crew only net “growlers” or “bergie bits” – chunks of ice that have fallen off the main body of an iceberg. The ice is crushed and melted, then blended and bottled locally by the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. The Government of Newfoundland, which issues water usage permits, regulates the harvest carefully. The environmental impact is minimal given that Iceberg Alley is essentially rock bottom for icebergs as they melt into the Atlantic Ocean on their southerly path.