We sat down with Jacques Tremblay to chat about why Bridgeland Distillery is so passionate for using local ingredients, where their product ideas come from, and to get some super secret information on their upcoming whisky program!
What did you do before Bridgeland and why did you start a distillery?
I was an engineer leading the Canadian division of a worldwide provider of Public Safety/911 systems. Daniel was an Electrical Engineer who owned a consulting business doing work for the oil and gas sector.
For Daniel, it was making wine and brandy and grappa; for Jacques it was making beer and whisky. We had quickly realized these products have common practices and similar techniques, especially in the maturing portion for each.
We both were looking at starting businesses based on the idea of following our passions and making a living out of it, and as we had similar goals we combined our dream together.
What sets Bridgeland Distilling apart from other Spirits producers?
For us, the connection to our agricultural ingredient providers is extremely important. In the recent year, changes in the industry have allowed the ability for distilleries to open or operate and not manufacture the products that they offer to the public.
We didn't want to just buy alcohol in bulk (as is allowed in the Alberta distillery market today,) as there is no connection with the Alberta Farmer that has dedicated their life and their family’s way of living to. We are 100% committed to staying the course and producing 100% of the spirits we produce with family run businesses providing a very high-quality product done in a traditional manner.
What inspires you to create the unique spirits Bridgeland offers like Grappa and Brandy; both are pretty rare to be made in Alberta!
Daniel's family in Italy have been growing grapes for a living for generations, and as an outcome he developed the desire to make the best products out of grapes. Both of us are guided by what we love as consumers, and we'd like to stage a comeback for Brandy and Grappa as categories! :)
What value do you see in working with local suppliers?
For Bridgeland Distillery it is pretty important! The number one reason is that we can have a dialogue with the farmer/producer about what we're looking for in the product, especially when we're after special characteristics.
An example of this is the slightly roasted character of the high kilned barley we use for the single malt. It is hard to request something like this from a national provider! When we're looking at doing something new, we always look around to see what is growing here: what is it that Alberta produces that is relevant and unique when it comes to premium original craft spirit.
There is also the reason of being close to the supplier nowadays with the supply chain logistic issues seen around the world.The Red Shed family has always been easy to work with. They always provide the best product in a timely manner! With each bag containing a label indicating which quarter section it's coming from, it brings our traceability to the next level.
Can you tell us anything about the upcoming whisky program?
Our Single Malt program will be coming to a first release in June! This will mark an important milestone for us! Our program is made with 100% Red Shed malts. Expect tons of clean flavour from to Red Shed high kilned malt, Bridgeland coiled lyne arm, and virgin American oak maturation.
In the years to come, we will release Single Pot Still Whisky made from a mixed mash of Red Shed malted and unmalted barley, and Red Shed's oats. Also in the program's future is a Wheat Whisky that will feature the Red Shed raw wheat, Penhold! Lots to get excited about!