Geoff Stewart, owner and head distiller at Rig Hand Craft Distillery

Calgary International Beerfest x Baron
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Who are you and your current job? 

I am the owner and head distiller at Rig Hand Craft Distillery 


What was the inspiration behind your Distillery? 

I had intentions originally to start a craft brewery but after researching the local micro-brewery scene thought there was too much competition already on the beer side. My wife and I had toured a distillery in Ohio and thought something similar could be successful in Alberta. We really wanted to reflect the local area in our products and marketing and came up with the concept of a custom bottle that was a replica of the first successful rig in Alberta. We source all of our input products from local farmers to produce some pretty unique spirits like Saskatoon Berry Vodka and Sugar Beet Rum. We are in the heart of oil and ag country so we feel we have the agricultural product in the bottle and the oil represented by our packaging. (the reason you started Distillery, concept, meaning and more)


Can you give us a tour of your Distillery scene? 

We are the first craft distillery in the greater Edmonton area, established in Nov 2014. We are actively encouraging other distillery start-ups in the area by offering distilling courses, distributing distillery equipment, and offering consulting services for navigating the government regulations. To date we, have help inspire 3 other distilleries: Strathcona Spirits, Back 40 Distilling and Hanson Distillery. We are all trying work co-operatively to advance the industry and educate the public about the difference between a brewery and a distillery.(tell us about your local Distillery scene)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a Distillery? 

Do your homework. Research the market. Get a proper education. Do an apprenticeship. Visit as many distilleries as possible. Make sure this is something you really want to do and then jump in with both feet and completely commit yourself to it.