A Cochrane family with a taste for adventure has started up one of the province’s first craft distilleries.
Susan Ransom and Michael Guenzel are the owners of Visioncraft, a successful laser check printing software company operating in town since the 1980s. A few years ago, the couple went looking for a way to spice up their lives with a new venture.
“We got bored,” said Ransom with a laugh, adding they considered buying a vineyard – until they took a tour of Iron Works Distillery in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. “We walked in and saw the still and said, ‘That’s what we want to do.’”
“It’s kind of cool. It’s different,” echoed husband Michael.
After four years of working through red tape to secure a licence, purchasing specialized equipment and searching for a suitable location, Krang Spirits quietly opened its doors at 315 1st Street East a couple of weeks ago.
The company offers a premium vodka, along with a small slate of liqueurs, including Krupnik spiced honey, Persephone floral berry and Bad Billy chocolate coffee aperitifs.
Distiller Travis Green said it’s been a process of “trial and error” to achieve the unique and smooth flavours he hopes Krang will come to be known for.
“We started with a really traditional recipe and then tweaked it for our tastes,” he said. “We’re making things that are different … It’s definitely fun.”
With recent licensing changes to allow this type of business to operate, craft distilling is still a relatively new business offering for Albertans. About a dozen companies are currently granted a licence to do it – and just half of those, including Krang Spirits, are up and running.
“It’s a small community across Canada,” said Guenzel.
“Not everybody understands the process,” added Ransom.
It’s true: the distilling process isn’t a simple one. Krang’s warehouse houses a Muller Pot still – an intimidating and expensive piece of equipment from Germany made of stunning hand-hammered copper – alongside a massive steam boiler. Unfamiliar terms like mashtun, steam jacket, carbon filter and aromat are used when describing how to properly distill the grains.
To help customers understand how the liquor is made – and to feel more invested in the process – Ransom said she is building a teaching room inside the distillery.
Krang Spirits’ tasting hours are Thursday and Friday from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 to 4 p.m. Customers can stop by for a tour of the facility and a sip of the flavors Krang has to offer.
Green said Krang is currently putting the finishing touches on a gin and hopes to incorporate seasonal liqueurs, like pumpkin spice, in the future.
“Every time you come in, there will hopefully be something new.”