We proudly supported the competitors looking to represent CANADA on the world scene and compete for the title of world champion! Said Addamchi took it for the Seafood category in which he used RAW’s Peppercorn Gin and we are excited to see how he does at the Worlds. Watch the video highlights!
“Assuming AGLC licensing is successful, we are on track to meet the major milestones set out for this project” RAW Distillery founder Lindsay Smylie sat down recently to discuss the concept of their new distillery start-up. “ The momentum is overwhelming to us, the amount of people reaching out wanting to help make RAW a success has quite honestly caught us off guard” say’s Lindsay, speaking to the recent release of the RAW brand through an Alberta BoostR Campaign, website and social media launch.
“The biggest question we have been getting is why RAW? What is RAW going to do that’s different from everyone else? and it’s a fair question because there is no shortage of options on liquor store shelves” says Lindsay. “My answer to anyone asking why they should choose our RAW brand spirits is simple… we are a local option, support local” Lindsay adds that the bigger question is what makes us different? RAW is a brand that speaks to people’s emotions.
The RAW experience of tasting a variety of craft vodkas, gins, or whiskies is the goal for the RAW team. Encouraging customers to sample, for example, 4 different types of gin or vodka from 6 different base grains or botanicals can be an eye opener. “Our vision is to take that tasting one step further and guide our customers in a tasting experience where we will encourage customers to identify their own taste preferences. Our skilled team will then customize a spirit at our distillery based on personal feedback. It’s a unique concept that as far as we can tell is a niche not being met in western Canada. It’s something we are pretty excited about” says Lindsay.
RAW Distillery is an emerging artisan spirits producer hoping to ride the wave of consumer interest in craft spirits. “Marketing spirits in today’s marketplace has to go beyond brand loyalty”. Says CEO and Distiller Lindsay Smylie, a local Calgarian who goes on to say “it’s about a tasting experience”. Lindsay, an executive consultant specializing in health care, was introduced to the spirits industry through her love of the craft beer scene. “If someone told me 4 years ago that gin was to become my full time passion. I would have laughed them right out of my office.”
Together with her husband Brad Smylie, a local fire fighter and beer brewer their dream is set to become a reality this fall. “There was a time not long ago that a start-up just couldn’t compete in this space, well that was also true of beer in the 90’s!”. Brad adds “people are looking for spirits that aren’t made in industrial sized ethanol refineries, our intention is to provide a local option, with local ingredient at a competitive price.” And adds “and we’re having fun doing it”.
RAW distillery was intending on converting an old brewery into a distillery in Canmore and be in production this fall. This brewery originally operated under the name Mountain Brewing Company in the 90’s and mainly produced lagers. “Our operations are projected to add 6-8 full time jobs in Alberta.” says Lindsay “The Canmore site was dusty and old, but it had character, this Reno just made sense to us.
We both identify with the Rocky Mountains and the culture. Extreme sports and mountain living are how we met and you’ll see that reflected in our branding.” Lindsay adds “RAW is more than a brand to us, it’s the emotion we are hoping to invoke when we introduce people to our craft.”
It was this location that has thrown these two entrepreneurs their first true roadblock. “With all the barriers to entry this Industry is known for, we knew starting up a business in this economic climate would not be an easy task. I guess we never anticipated negotiating the site with its owner was going to be a barrier to us” Say’s Lindsay speaking to the recent decision of RAW to relocate in Calgary. “Negotiations weren’t moving forward so we were faced with the hard decision to relocate”.
With change comes opportunity, “fortunately for us there is a lot of empty space in Calgary for lease with oil prices being what they are, it makes our start up more viable than it would have been in the boom.”.