Burwood Distillery’s story began with a connection. Since its inception in 2016, the distillery has prided itself on pioneering flavours inspired by generations-old European traditions, concocted with homegrown Albertan ingredients.
All good stories have a beginning and Burwood’s started when Ivan Cilic met Jordan Ramey during a real estate search. They discovered a shared passion for spirits — of both the entrepreneurial and craft alcohol kind. As the two explored the idea of distilling premium craft spirits in Alberta, they identified a need for a clear point of differentiation to ensure success.
Ivan’s brother Marko Cilic — who runs a bee farm in Chestermere — was the missing piece. With an exclusive supply partnership between the bee farm and the distillery, Burwood’s point of difference became the introduction of local honey as a key ingredient.
We talk to co-founder Ivan to find out more about their story and how Burwood Distillery is a celebration of Alberta’s agriculture with a nod to the generations of distillers that came before them.
What makes your beer unique?
Ivan: Burwood Distillery is much more than a craft spirits producer. We want to reshape the landscape of Western Canadian produced spirits and hard sodas by sharing our knowledge and inventing new, accessible styles using novel, local ingredients to intrigue current spirit consumers and welcome the next generation into the quality of locally produced craft products.
Why did you choose this community for the distillery?
Ivan: We secured the space just this past July. Currently, we are undergoing the planning phase while waiting on Development & Building Permit approvals from the City of Calgary. Burwood at The Stables will link the existing distillery with a collaborative restaurant and partner craft brewery, creating a destination for tasting, events, and education unique to the region.
What makes your community special and how have they supported you?
Ivan: At Burwood distillery, we’re all about crafting connections with people. Whether that is through our community outreach and donations to charitable organizations or simply hosting an epic Christmas party for our die-hard fans, we are always striving to create new memories worth sharing. Our local community plays a huge importance towards our success.
Where do you see Burwood Distillery in the future?
Ivan: The new location will offer tours alongside on-site consumption, event rentals, and educational programming. This combined service offering will make The Stables a tasting destination for both locals and out-of-market tourists.
How would you describe Calgary’s small-business community?
Ivan: Although many small local businesses were negatively impacted by the recent pandemic, I find that Calgary’s small business community is resilient, resourceful and innovative. At Burwood, we collaborate with other like-minded local businesses and we source our ingredients from local suppliers. Striving to build that strong community engagement.
Last but not least, how do you define the word “community”?
Ivan: Reflecting back to our Croatian roots and traditions, growing up, for my brother Marko and I, distilling was part of our chores. As we became older, we realized the week-long distilling festival in our home village was a chance for the community to connect and celebrate a successful harvest. Now, at Burwood Distillery, we are able to once again bring the community together to celebrate our new home… in liquid form.
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