Who are you and your current job?
My name is David Farran, President, and Founder of Eau Claire Distillery and President of the Alberta Craft Distillery Association.
What was the inspiration behind your distillery?
Eau Claire Distillery is the first craft distillery in Alberta. We are a farm-to-glass concept with a focus on Single Malt Whisky made with Alberta homegrown barley. We produce a selection of international award winning spirits including Gin, Vodka, and other unique products. We have a unique program where we produce special edition single malt whiskey and Canadian Rye whiskey entirely with horse-farmed grain – produced with antique farming equipment in the same way we did 120 years ago.
Can you give us a tour of your distillery scene?
The Alberta craft distillery scene is fledgling, having started in 2014 with legislative changes from our provincial government. We have 7 operating craft distilleries in Alberta, with a few more in the planning stages or close to opening. Alberta does not have a government program to foster the growth of the craft distillery scene as of yet, which has inhibited our industry growth. Once that changes, we anticipate solid growth in the sector, but perhaps not as much as the craft beer scene has enjoyed. We are certainly excited to see some new entrants and grow our industry sector.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a distillery?
Be well capitalized. It is an expensive venture, as you essentially must build a brewery to produce the distiller’s wash and then have distilling equipment on top of that. We don’t enjoy the volumes that you see in breweries, so a wide distribution network is essential to meet what is a classic skinny margin business. Craft distilling is new to the consumer, so it requires good working capital to ensure that you can survive the early years of construction and develop solid market penetration.