Who are you and your current job?
Currently, we are a motley crew of 4 co-owners, all equal partners, from a variety of industries.
Jordan earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in association with the University of California, Los Angeles in the fall of 2010. In the summer of 2013, he accepted a lead role in the development and launch of the first western Canadian Teaching Brewery at Olds College (Olds, AB). As the Professor of Brewing Sciences, his main tasks include teaching a myriad of brewing & distillation science, sensory science, and alcohol production equipment related courses. In the summer of 2015, Jordan completed the Seibel Institute of Technology Craft Distilling Operations and Technology certificate in Chicago. Jordan is an active member of the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA), the Brewers Association (BA), and currently, sits on the Webinar Technical Committee for the MBAA and the board for Beer Canada.
Marko Cilic is the lead construction project manager as well as getting down and dirty and get things done team member. Marko also helped with distilling back in Bosnia. “During the fall season, my family and I would help our neighbor pick plums from his orchard in preparation for the production of moonshine. This had begun around the time I was approximately ten years of age. At the beginning, I did not understand what moonshine was, nor was I excited about an additional chore that had to be done. However I soon became fond of the task at hand as it had led up to a “festival” in which all the neighbors would gather, meat would be roasted, and stories would be shared.” – Marko
Ivan Cilic is the glue that brought the team together back in 2013. After an interesting police raid on one of Jordan’s neighbor’s in Kilarney here in Calgary, Ivan ended up the RE/MAX listing agent that the bank brought on to sell the foreclosure. Jordan, being curious, ended up doing a walk-through of the property with Ivan and the two struck up an unlikely friendship that began this distillery journey so many months ago. Ivan is currently a REMAX Realtor and in charge of sales, branding, and promotions for the distillery.
Ruza Obad is a CPA (CMA) working for the United Farmers of Alberta. With her strong business background and extensive treasury skills, Ruza ensures the team stays on budget and fiscally sound. Born and raised in Calgary; Ruza’s parents are both Croatian from Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH) and are proud Canadians. “I feel privileged to be able to pick the best of two cultures (Canadian and Croatian). Being the first generation of immigrant parents, I value family, hard work and loyalty.”
What was the inspiration behind your Distillery?
Burwood started out as an idea that blossomed from 4 folks with a shared a common vision of a space that celebrated Alberta’s agriculture to bring world-class spirits to a thirsty town. It is an expression of each owner doing what they do best and simply enjoying crafting a business, a brand, a spirit, and place to soak it all in. It’s what we want to do on our days/nights/minutes that we have to spare in each day. It’s what we’d do if we didn’t have to do anything, it’s for moments worth drinking to.
Our name: Burwood is an homage to the European roots that brought some of the owners together and the ideology for many of the recipes. A bure (not like the Pavel kind) is a Croation word for barrel or cask, referring to higher quality spirits laid down for aging. The bur oak tree is also used in barrel production for aging spirits and we plan to do a fair bit of wood aging. The name just felt right and when you know, you know.
Can you give us a tour of your Distillery scene?
Our distillery is literally just about to open its doors. We are set to undergo our final, final inspections any day now (Mid-April) and be producing spirits in the next few weeks. Our vibe is throwback Gatsby, our flavors are new world spins on traditional and sometimes dead styles, and we’re making flavors that we’re hoping get people excited for craft spirits the same way Albertan’s are blowing up about Craft Beer. Our still is a hand-built, Kentucky copper moonshine still from HBS Stills, adapted for modern eccentricities. It’s electric fired with custom controls built locally from Total Control Solutions Group out of Airdrie, AB with some nifty German Burkert accessories. Lastly, we’re all about re-use and re-purposing. Our tanks came from across Canada, as far East as Ontario and even from NW Territories. We took old, beautiful, but forgotten tanks and together with GT Process (Calgary) put them back together.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a Distillery?
Lose sleep over it. Love it like you’re not getting paid to do it (cause you won’t at first). Learn what true quality is a spirit (or anything for that matter) then get obsessive about the quality.