St. Albert’s first craft distillery has moved shop and has big dreams for the upcoming summer.
Black Diamond Distillery moved into their new building on Rowland Crescent on Sept.1, but the company is still in renovation mode as they make plans for a small bar and a retail tasting room that will look over the production space, said owner David Scade.
“We've been doing renovations as we're doing production… in the future once the renovations are complete, people will be able to come in to have a quick cocktail and then pop upstairs once their tour is done …in a tasting room where they're now overlooking (the) production space," Scade said.
Scade said Black Diamond Distillery made the move because they wanted to own their own space instead of renting.
“It just kind of fell into place where we can make it happen. We decided to take that leap of faith in ourselves and invest in our own business,” he said.
Scade started distilling alcohol as a hobby at home “for the science of it.”
He used his friend’s still a couple of times, but he didn’t like how it distilled for him, so he built his own.
“It was just a small still that I had at home. And it's kind of spun from there into a full-on business,’ he said.
The Black Diamond Distillery business started in 2017, and they opened for sales in 2018. Scade said craft distilleries weren’t a huge thing when they started out.
“There (weren't) a lot of liqueurs on the market. When we started, (liqueurs) was what we focused on,” he said.
The company now has five liqueurs and they have also branched into infused vodka, gin, unaged whiskey, and craft cocktails.
“Those are the products that we have in cans which are vodka based. We still mash and distill every drop of vodka that goes into our products, both the liquors and our cocktails, along with the vodkas themselves,” he said.
Scade said 2019 was a very strong year for the distillery and the company had to shift gears when the pandemic hit in 2020.
“We shifted to producing hand sanitizer. Initially we produce hand sanitizer just to give away because we knew that there was a shortage and we could fill that void,” he said.
At first, they were selling sanitizer by donation, but then they started retailing it.
“That definitely helped our situation,” he said.
Like many businesses during the pandemic, Black Diamond Distillery made the move online.
“We created our online store and offered delivery and opened up that whole section of online sales which was not something we were doing prior to COVID,” he said.
Scade said they started to release new products, like the infused vodkas and the craft cocktails, to stay “in front of the customer.”
“To try to push to do new things — to be new in the industry,” he said.
Online sales for the company were very strong, said Scade, when people were stuck at home during COVID restrictions. Now that people are leaving their homes and going out to do their shopping, Scade said the in-person purchases have picked back up.
Scade said they will continue with the online sales, but they have been receiving a lot of requests for tours and tastings —like they had in their old space.
“We had some very enthusiastic people that wanted to do tours and tastings,” he said.
Currently, they are not permitted to have the public in their space, except for pickups, but they are hoping sometime in 2023, that will change.
“People are wanting to go out and they like to see the backstory and they like to see the production of how something is being made right in their backyard," Scade said.
“And we love showing it off."