RAW Distillery

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RAW & Canmore Cave Tours are Proud to Present: RAW Underground

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We are pleased to introduce: RAW Underground, Sensory Cave Tour and Distillery Tasting for Canmore Uncorked. This one of a kind experience is a sensory adventure like you’ve never experienced before. Bringing together the remarkable underground terrain of Rat’s Nest Cave and the creative sensations of RAW spirits, you simply can’t miss this. Here’s a sneak peek at what you’re in for. Picture this…

A helmet buckled beneath your chin, harness around your waste, coveralls zipped over your entire body, prepared to explore a brand new place. You’re going to get dirty, but dirt washes off, and you haven’t explored the rockies until you’ve stepped inside them.

The temperature is a comfortable 4.5℃, the exact same every day of the year. It’s dark. Dark like you’ve never experienced it before. Your headlamp lights the way, though you’re aware it’s the only thing standing between you and complete and total darkness. It’s quiet. Silent, actually, apart from the sounds of you and your team making your way through. The smell? Earth. That’s the funny thing about caves, the absence of the sensory experience is palpable, almost a presence in and of itself. As you navigate this brand new space a familiar sent hits your nose. It’s sweet. Or is it bitter? You step closer, closing your eyes to focus your energy on one sense in particular.

RAW Distillery is known for forging some of the freshest botanicals and ingredients possible. Each of their spirits offer a tasting adventure and this is why they’ve come together with Canmore Cave Tours. To challenge your senses on an experiential sensory adventure designed to train your senses.  All 5 of them.

Canmore Cave tours will challenge your mind and play with your sense of sight, touch, and sound while RAW introduces the complexities of Aroma and Taste. Without the sense of smell we would be limited to basic taste sensations such as salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami…  Join us deep underground where your senses are heightened and focused without distraction. Discover just how important your nose is when tasting spirits (and of course everything else you eat or drink!).

After emerging from the underground, you are invited to join us back at the distillery at 810 Bow Valley Trail for a full spirit tasting to put your new sensory training to the test!

The RAW Underground Experience includes a Canmore Cave Tours Explorer Tour, a RAW Distillery tasting and welcome sample cocktail, and the exclusive collaborative in-cave sensory experience.

Price: $149/person
Date: April 30th at 3:00 pm
Location: 1. Canmore Cave Tours 2. RAW Distillery
Max Participants: 8

Get your tickets here.

Big Announcements from RAW Distillery

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In case you’ve been wondering, we’ve got some BIG things in the works at RAW Distillery. We can’t leak all of the details just yet. But, in the meantime, we’ve got a couple of announcements that we think you might like. A new partnership, a new location, new products, a new program, and MORE. Let us give you a quick rundown.

RAW Distillery Has Officially Partnered with BLAKE Canmore

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We have entered into an exciting and inspiring partnership with BLAKE Canmore which came about serendipitously and could not be more fitting. BLAKE’s slogan says it all: “EAT. EXPLORE. EXPERIENCE.” Experiential eating and drinking are of the utmost importance to us. We want to provide a tasting adventure from start to finish, whether you’re coming in to enjoy a food and beverage pairing or purchasing a bottle of our spirits to drink on your own, it’s an adventure through and through. RAW and BLAKE are both founded upon a passion for local ingredients, unparalleled quality, and providing the best of the best. Eat local, drink local, know exactly what you’re putting in your body, and enjoy flavours like never before. Accessible luxury is what we’re all about. This partnership extends far past shared goals and values, in fact, it now includes a shared space.

Our Brand New Space

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Have you noticed the construction on the back of the BLAKE restaurant? That’s us! We’ve left our old location and will be opening the doors to our brand new location later in the spring. You can expect a tasting room, a whole lot of sunlight, distillery tours, and more. We can’t wait to share this space with all of you. Stay tuned for photos, more info, and opening dates. We know you’ll love it as much as we already do!

Craft Spirits and Beyond

Why stop at spirits? RAW is poised to begin producing our very own craft beer! Our beer will be unveiled at this year’s Canmore Uncorked Beer Festival and on taps at our new location to follow. As you’d expect, it’s local, sophisticated, yet uncomplicated. RAW brewing is coming your way!

RAW Lifestyle

Do you feel that you are living a RAW lifestyle? Perhaps you should apply to become a RAW ambassador! We will be launching a RAW ambassadorship program this summer in which individuals from the Bow Valley and beyond can apply to join our team. Those selected will get perks from booze and merch to event tickets. Stay tuned for application details.

So, what about RIGHT now? Good question. While we wait for our new location to open its doors, there are a few ways you can enjoy RAW spirits.

Tastings at BLAKE

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We will be holding guided tastings every Friday and Saturday from 2:30 – 4:30 pm at BLAKE in their exclusive Loft for $12. Upgrade to include tastings of cocktail flights. You will receive 3 sample cocktails, 0.5oz each, for only $15. We’ve also got spring break tastings which are now opened up for booking next week, March 26-30th between 2:30-4:30! So, book your tasting today, either for spring break or any week following on a Friday or Saturday. www.rawspirits.ca/tours

Buy Some Spirits! 



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Pop by BLAKE and purchase RAW spirits today or any day! We’ve got gin sample packs and full bottles of all of our spirits. We don’t know about you, but that sun sure does encourage getting a drink in hand. Can’t make it to Canmore? Ask for us at your local liquor store or buy online (insert link to online store)

We can’t tell you how excited we are for what’s to come. Thank you for your ongoing patience, love and support. Stay tuned!

Gain Access to the VIP SECRET SHOW by RAW and The Gathering

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RAW Distillery has joined the roster as one of The Gathering 2019’s partners. Not only will they be providing their mountain-made craft spirits throughout The Gathering, but they will also be co-hosting a VIP concert that you do not want to miss. First things first, let us tell you a little bit about The Gathering and why you simply must be there.

Introducing: The Gathering 2019

Cult Gathering Banff 2019

The Gathering is an exclusive summit which focuses on exposing the world’s most successful brands. Bringing together key players in brand awareness, marketing, customer devotion, and more. This event pulls big names from around the globe to uncover the inside secrets that have lead to their insurmountable success. The event will be taking place from February 20th – 22nd at the enchanting Banff Springs Hotel.

About 1,000 delegates from across Canada, the US, Australia, China, and the UK will come together to learn from and celebrate this year’s brand honourees and speakers. The summit is continually ranked as one of the most intimate and inspiring events for marketing professionals,
CEOs, CMOs, and entrepreneurs.

 

 

The Gathering 2019’s Honourees

This year’s Gathering will be honouring brands such as:

YETI, The Los Angeles Lakers, MARVEL, Cheetos, The North Face, Porsche, M&Ms, LUSH.

See? When we say “big names,” we mean it. On top of these hard-hitting brands, Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk will be headlining The Gathering to receive the Personal Brand Lifetime Achievement Award. The prestigious award is in honour of an amazing sports career, his entrepreneurial spirit, and philanthropic endeavours.

“Tony Hawk is one of the most recognized athletes out there. He’s a role model for fans of all ages. He’s had an outstanding skateboarding career, but he’s also been able to turn that into a marketing engine for several successful businesses and use his celebrity to do incredible good for high-risk kids around the world. We can’t think of a more deserving Cult Brand Personality!” says Bradley Foster, Managing Director of The Gathering.

The Gathering Music & RAW to Co-Host a VIP Show

DEAR ROUGE: The Gathering 2019

The Gathering continues to expand and evolve while maintaining its intimate and personal atmosphere. This year, The Gathering Music Festival has expanded to bring together emerging Canadian bands for a series of concerts. The live shows will be taking place at the Bands Springs concert stage and the Rose and Crown pub in Banff.

In addition, the Gathering and RAW are pleased to present an intimate private show with Dear Rouge at Canalta Lounge. The Vancouver-based husband and wife duo, Dear Rouge, will be playing on February 22nd for an unforgettable VIP secret show while RAW serves signature cocktails and provides tastings of their locally-made craft spirits. To gain access to the VIP secret show by RAW and The Gathering. All you have to do is click here to RSVP.

Spaces are limited! We hope to see you there.

Skijordue 2019 is Comin’ in Hot, and We Want You to Be there!

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Listen up, Alberta! We’ve got something extremely exciting and extremely Canadian coming up and we want you to be there! RAW Distillery is the official Rye supplier for Skijor Canada 2019’s event, Skijordue hosted at the Calgary Polo Club in Okotoks on February 23rd.

If you’re wondering what Skijoring is, you’re probably not alone. Let us break it down for you! It is a winter sport in which a person on skis or a snowboard is pulled by a horse, dog, or vehicle. It sometimes involves a racing/competitive aspect and it always involves a whole lot of fun and booze!

Skijordue 2019

Sam Mitchell and her husband organize this annual charity fundraiser, Skijordue. The event is called “Skijordue” because the two main aims are to go fast and eat cheese. Fittingly, they’ve combined the words Skijor and fondue. The horse-draw racers take off, racing through obstacle course challenges, while spectators feast on cheese and sip Alberta Rye.

If you’re curious how intense these events can get, Sam explained to CBC News that the horses can hit speeds up to 65 km/h. If you like horses, winter sports, going fast, eating cheese, and attending parties, we think you’ve met your match! Whether you’re brave enough to sign up yourself or just looking to spectate, RAW whisky in hand, you belong here. There will be 4 races, a circuit, relay, sprint, and long jump.

RAW: Your Offical Skijordue Rye Supplier

In it’s very nature, this event is tons of fun. But beyond that, it fuses a number of RAW Distillery’s passions into one spectacular day. Founders, Lindsay and Brad, are especially excited about this unique event for a number of reasons. Lindsay grew up horseback riding competing in horseshows, finding immense joy and comfort on horseback no matter what the style. Brad is formerly a semi-pro wakeboarder and spent a great deal of time on the ski-hill patrolling in Kananaskis on his snowboard, even as a coach or with their avi-dog. Fast forward, and the two have become deeply passionate about local, authentic, RAW spirits which are sophisticated, yet uncomplicated. Their award winning Unaged RYE begins with glacier fresh water, 100% Alberta-sourced Rye grain and is finished in Port Barrels from Portugal. Adventurous, bold, flavours straight from the Rockies.

Oh, another thing. This year’s theme is Euro Western Modern Vingage Splendour. As you can imagine, there will be an eclectic array of ensembles to feast your eyes on. Expect a lot of fur, fringe, spandex, and more. Come on out, enjoy our Rye, and take in the glorious spectacle that is Skijordue. “This is a really special event for us! We hope everyone can come out and enjoy this truly Albertan event.” -Lindsay Smylie

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, because we want you there, we’re giving away tickets to Skijordue. Check out our Facebook and Instagram to find out how to enter.

See you there, cowboys, cowgirls and riders!

RAW to Attend this Year’s TRIBUTE to Craft Spirits Festival

By in Events 1

Listen up, drink lovers! We’ve got big news. RAW Distillery is delighted to announce that we will be taking part in this year’s TRIBUTE to Craft Spirits Festival. Even bigger news: TRIBUTE kicks off today! First and foremost, here’s what you need to know about the festival:

TRIBUTE to Craft Spirits Festival

RAW Cocktain TRIBUTE to Craft Spirits Festival

This unique festival is the newest addition to Banff’s beloved SnowDays, the two-week-long celebration of snow, ice, winter, and (now) craft spirits. A wonderful addition, if we do say so ourselves. The festivities all take place nestled within the exquisite Canadian Rockies. What better way to celebrate the cold but beautiful winter months than with a specialty cocktail in hand?

TRIBUTE, with the support of Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, will be held in Banff and Lake Louise from January 16th – 27th, 2019 and we could not be more excited to be involved! Cocktails, craft spirits, great food, awesome people, and unbeatable scenery. What more could you ask for? Truly, you do not want to miss this festival.

Learn More.

TRIBUTE Cocktail Menus: January 16th – 27th

RAW Peppercorn Gin at TRIBUTE to Craft Spirits Festival

So, here’s the deal. The festival begins on the 16th by launching specialty TRIBUTE TO CRAFT cocktail menus in 15 bars and restaurants in Banff and Lake Louise. Each participating establishment’s menu will be home to 5 craft spirits from Alberta and BC for the duration of the festival.

And, you guessed it, RAW’s spirits will be in rotation!
Here’s where you can find us:

  • TOQUERAW Botanical Gin
  • Block Kitchen & BarRAW Peppercorn Gin
  • Larkspur – RAW Rye Unaged
  • Vermillion Room – RAW Peppercorn Gin
  • PARK Bar & Restaurant – RAW Botanical Gin
  • Balkan RestaurantRAW Rye Unaged
  • Magpie & Stump – RAW Botanical Gin
  • Eddie Burger Bar – RAW Peppercorn Gin
  • Mount Norquay – RAW Rye Unaged

Learn More.

THE MAIN EVENT: TRIBUTE DISCOVERY EVENT:

JANUARY 26th – 27th

Though the entire festival is exciting, this event is what we’re especially excited about, and you should be too! On January 26th and 27th from 2-9pm, TRIBUTE will be holding a massive outdoor event in the Banff village. The discovery event allows attendees to mingle about and get acquainted with craft distilleries from all over Alberta and BC and bars and restaurants from Banff and Lake Louise.

There will be between 10-15 festival stations where you can taste spirits and hors-d’oeuvres made by a diverse roster of exceptional businesses, all made with local ingredients. Free admission, to taste the amazing cocktails and food on offer, $1 coupons will be available to purchase to enjoy what the makers are whipping up just for you.

If you’re still not sure what to expect, we’ll put it simply: a big outdoor drinking festival with some of the best food and beverage offerings you can find in The Rockies. As you may have guessed, RAW Distillery will be hosting a station at the Discovery Event and we would love nothing more to share our spirits and specialty cocktails with you!

Fledgling micro-distilleries crafting a spirited scene in Alberta

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Globe and Mail by Dan Clapson

Until a few years ago, Alberta’s liquor rules made it almost impossible for small-scale craft distillers to produce spirits that would find their way into local bars.

You could sit in a bar in downtown Saskatoon and sip a gin martini made with locally made Lucky Bastard Distillers’ Gambit Gin. In Vancouver, you could perch on a stool along the glossy white bar in the Lobby Lounge of the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver and drink a cocktail with Victoria Gin fresh off the bottling line from Vancouver island.

But not in Alberta.

At the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Brad and Lindsay Smylie own and operate Raw Distillery in the town of Canmore. After meeting more than a decade ago, Mr. Smylie discovered a love of home brewing and together they opened up their small-scale operation in December of last year.

All products are distilled with glacier water from the Rocky Mountains and include an unaged rye, a vodka, as well as one citrus-infused gin and another with tellicherry black peppercorns.

Globe and Mail photo by Todd Korol

Craft beer and spirits coming to provincial farmers market

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Rocky Mountain Outlook by Jordan Small

There are 92 liquor manufacturers in Alberta and in the Bow Valley, including Wild Life, there are six: Grizzly Paw Brewing Co., Banff Ave. Brewing Co., RAW Distillery, Park Distillery and Canmore Brewing Co.

The main ingredient behind the policy change was giving small business owners the opportunity to widen their consumer base.

“This creates new business opportunities for entrepreneurs who are truly at the heart of this policy change,” said Joe Ceci, president of the treasury board and minister of finance, in a release.

To “better serve the industry,” the Province and Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission also announced a decision to streamline the licensing process by harmonizing licence classes and creating a small manufacturers licence type.

It would create a single licence that identifies brewing facilities and licensed establishments.

“This is a win-win for Alberta’s businesses and consumers and a positive development for the broader community as we all get a chance to discover and support more locally made products,” said Alain Maisonneuve, acting president and CEO, AGLC, in a release.

Distilleries springing up all over southern Alberta

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Calgary Herald by SHELLEY BOETTCHER

Raw Distillery — Brad Smylie’s great-grandmother was a bootlegger decades ago in Ontario. Now he and his wife, Lindsay, are the owners of Raw Distillery in Canmore. They have a vodka, peppercorn gin, an unaged rye, and they’ll soon release a citrus gin and a botanical gin, as well as a peppercorn Caesar collaboration with Bow Valley BBQ’s Parkway Clamato. rawspirits.ca

Meet the Maker: Canmore distillers have moonshine in their blood

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Calgary Herald Swerve

You could say that the art of distillation runs in Brad Smylie’s blood. A hundred or so years ago, his great-grandmother was a bootlegger in a tiny mining town in northern Ontario.

In the early 1900s, it was illegal to sell alcohol in mining towns, but Smylie’s nonna could see a market for quality moonshine. She put the distillation skills she’d learned in Italy to use in her newfound home, and she became a local legend, even inspiring a book about her boozy exploits.

Smylie was born after his great-grandmother’s death, but as the owner, with his wife Lindsay, of Raw Distillery in Canmore, he’s channelling her success by making and selling—legally—spirits. To date, his products include vodka, peppercorn gin and an unaged rye finished in port barrels. A citrus gin is next to be bottled, followed by a botanical gin, as well as some collaborations, including a peppercorn gin caesar with Bow Valley BBQ’s Parkway Clamato.

“The name refers to the raw form of whatever ingredients we’re using, and also the granite that’s in the Rocky Mountains,” Lindsay says. “We want to be bold, expressive and celebrate raw ingredients.” You’ll find Raw spirits on restaurant lists and at liquor stores in Canmore and Calgary, including Crush & Cork, Co-op Wine Spirits Beer, Crowfoot Liquor, Liquor Depot, Willow Park Wines and Spirits and others.

Born and raised in Northern Ontario, Smylie moved to Calgary to work as a firefighter. He and Lindsay met through a mutual love of the outdoors, a passion that eventually led them to Canmore. Brad’s other interests included making beer. In the course of a decade spent brewing in his basement, he realized the family history was calling to him; he wanted to try his hand at distilling. Production started in January, and the first products hit the stores in early May.

Business has been booming, and the Smylies have plans for expansion and the addition of a tasting room. It’s a far cry, Brad notes, from his first experience working with a still. That came courtesy of his grandfather, Pep, his bootlegger great-grandmother’s son. Every fall for a few years in his teens, Brad was roped into stoking the fire under the still, while the elderly man and his buddies made grappa, a high-test Italian spirit.

“It was a really nerve-wracking experience, to be honest,” Brad says. “A bunch of old Italian guys who’d yell at me because they didn’t want the smoke getting too high in case someone was watching.”

On the plus side, however, the experience became early training for both of Brad’s careers: firefighter and distillery owner.

Brad’s grandfather passed away a few years ago and, not long after, the Smylies thought it would be nice to own the old family still. They haven’t been able to find it, but they’re not giving up yet. “It’s in somebody’s basement somewhere,” Lindsay says.

History in a glass

Brad Smylie’s great-grandmother used to deliver her moonshine—dubbed Recreation Rye and Cobalt Bloom—in milk jugs to “blind pigs,” another name for a speakeasy. The idea behind the name was that people would pay for a look at a blind pig (or some other unusual animal) and, along with a peek at said critter, receive an alcoholic beverage.