New distillery unveiled
Turner Valley: Business set to open this spring
Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 01:48 pm
A Millarville man wants to bring a little more spirit to Turner Valley’s downtown with his a new business.
Eau Claire Distillery founder David Farran said the town was his top choice as he searched for a location to prepare his wide range of gins, vodkas and whiskeys.
The company’s hand-crafted traditional artisanal spirits are expected to be available in retail locations and restaurants next month.
“I thought of all the places in the world, Alberta should be the place to have a craft distillery because we have the best agricultural products in the world,” said Farran, former vice-president of Big Rock Breweries. “We looked at a few (communities), Turner Valley was our favourite.”
Farran said it was Turner Valley’s rich history and close proximity to rural farmers that made it so desirable. The company will use only locally farmed ingredients within 100 miles of the community, he said.
“We wanted to be closer to the farmers,” he said. “We are trying to pin down for each batch who we will use.”
Farran, who lived in the area his whole life, purchased the former Turner Valley Theatre last June and began construction in the summer, leaving most of the original building intact.
The building was constructed in 1923 as a theatre and remained such under a number of owners until the 1990s when it became a photo shop, then a video rental store and then the location for McMahon’s Roofing. Farran said the equipment for the distiller was ordered last year. It arrived from Germany a month ago and should be in operation shortly, she said.
The company is now establishing local producers to supply the barley, rye, wheat, potatoes and other ingredients needed for its spirits, and will soon make connections with businesses to sell the product, said Farran.
This June, he anticipates opening a tasting room in the distillery to allow customers to sample the varieties and purchase their favourites.
He said this addition will provide job opportunities in the community.
Farran has noticed a lot of hype in the community since construction began on the distillery last summer.
“People have been stopping by,” he said. “There’s a lot of buzz in the community, a lot of excitement about a new business coming in. Distilleries are always loved.”
Among those excited to see Eau Claire Distillery open this spring is Monique LeBlanc, the Town of Turner Valley’s community services manager.
“We are very thrilled about this and this is exactly the type of business we are trying to attract,” she said.
“Things are starting to happen. We are starting to gain traction.”
LeBlanc said the company fits into the town’s vision to bring entrepreneurs with small-sized businesses into the community.
“The business model aligns nicely with the economic development framework set out in the Town’s vision to attract cultural and tourism-related businesses, and to grow business from within,” she said. “Not only will it fill a commercial vacancy, but it will bring vibrancy to the downtown core by restoring a historically significant building – the former Turner Valley Theatre.”
LeBlanc said she is impressed with Eau Claire Distillery’s focus to purchase only locally-produced ingredients and said the business is a great way to attract tourism and draw even more businesses to town.
She said the company complements other enhancements to Turner Valley this year including the anticipated opening of the Foothills Lions Club Spray Park behind the Dr. Lander Memorial Outdoor Swimming Pool, the Alberta Court House and future plans to develop a downtown centre that will include a sunken plaza, restaurants, retail businesses and a market area.
Farran hopes the opening of Eau Claire Distillery will be a catalyst for increasing in tourism in Turner Valley.
“These types of facilities in the United States are huge draws for people to come and visit, have a tour and taste,” he said. “We are very excited to be part of the Turner Valley business community.”