With a background in environmental design, Lindsay spent many years in the world of corporate healthcare. From living in Africa for a year to consulting with physicians on various environmental sustainability practices, she never imagined her life would lead to opening up her own distillery – in the beginning at least.
For Brad, on the other hand, this dream wasn’t so far-fetched.
Coming from a long line of distillers, it was really only a matter of time before Brad continued on the tradition.
In Ontario, his great-grandmother was a famous bootlegger who distilled Cobalt Blue Gin and Recreational Rye. Beginning at the age of 12 he grew up distilling various experiments on her distill and moved towards home brewing over the last 12 years. In fact, the first product that they created at RAW was a cork barrel rye, which just so happens to be a tribute to his great-grandmother and has since won many awards in the industry.
Opening the doors to RAW Distillery in the late summer of 2017 was simply a progression of a passion for Brad and for Lindsay, it was the answer to her dream of someday owning her own business.
“Step into the arena and be bold” was one of the concepts that spoke loud to Lindsay at a leadership retreat by Brene Brown.
It was at this retreat that she said out loud that she was going to start a brewery and distillery. It had been a concept that both her and Brad had tossed around many times, but it wasn’t until that moment that they jumped in with two feet.
Being a local business, Brad and Lindsay have set out to keep every aspect of RAW as close to home as possible, while preserving each ingredient in its rawest form. For instance, they use 100% Alberta Rye Grain, glacier water from the Rocky Mountains and are always searching local farmers markets for fresh ingredients to add to their flavours.
Their business might be small, but their facility is most definitely not! Their still, featuring 6,000-litre pots, was made by a similar husband and wife duo in Butte Montana, and has the capacity to put Alberta on the map in the spirits production industry. Using a process called “continuous speed distillation”, they have access to technology used by larger distilleries but which hasn’t been accessible to smaller craft distilleries due to their size and capacity.
Through single botanical distillation, they have the ability to play around with recipes and manipulate the ingredients to create new, bold and adventurous concoctions that haven’t been made before. Not being tied to simply one process provides them with the flexibility they need to get creative with their products.
Through their tasting workshops, guests become a part of the journey and experience first-hand, the process from start to finish - even getting the opportunity to choose their own flavour profile and see what it tastes like mixed up in a cocktail. It’s their goal to enlighten, educate and reinvent what you thought the gin and craft distilling industry looks like.
For Lindsay, connecting with the people, growing their brand and connecting with the community through collaborations and cross-promotions is what she is most passionate about within her business.
“I love being the one to decide what kind of company we are and seeing where it takes us,” she says.
On the other hand, Brad is motivated by the science that goes into every single step of the physical process of creating delicious spirits that represent the local landscape for you to enjoy.