RAW Distillery peppercorn gin isn’t at all what’s expected

RAW Distillery peppercorn gin isn’t at all what’s expected

Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 06:00 am

By: Jordan Small



  • Raw Distillery’s peppercorn gin RAW Parkway Caesar at the distillery in Canmore on Friday (Nov. 10).

    Aryn Toombs RMO Photo

The Smylies are in the family business, but, unlike their predecessors, the Canmore couple have done it legally.

The great-grandson of booze bootlegger “Nona,” an Italian-Canadian woman back in the 1920s, Brad Smylie, co-owner and founder of Canmore’s Raw Distillery, has had an unconventional upbringing with booze.

In fact, Smylie got his start in concocting moonshine with his grandfather in an old mining town in Ontario.

“That happened a long time ago; it’s not the way I make spirits now,” Smylie said with a laugh.

“The science, the process, the instrumentation and the craft spirits we wanted to create – you have to have an artisan flare, if that makes sense.”

Inside RAW Distillery’s production building at 1460 Railway Ave., Brad and his wife Lindsay have been distilling an award-winning product since last January.

It was a bit off the cuff as to how it happened, but with 12 years of experience in brewing and distilling, the two already had a strong understanding of the industry.

RAW offers a trio of star-spirits such as its seasonal rye, winner of the 2017 best in class at Alberta beverage awards, vodka, and a peppercorn gin.


“(The rye) is aged until we are happy with it and in a port barrel from Portugal, which brings in a lot of the floral aromatics that you get in a spirit,” said Smylie, adding they’re constantly looking to diversify their barrel stock. “It’s prominent in the nose and the flavour didn’t give off a sweetness, it gave a depth of character to an otherwise un-aged spirit.”

Handpicked peppercorns from India are dried for six to eight weeks, then packaged and sent in five-pound vacuum-sealed bags to Canmore. With the peppercorns, RAW has created a gin that is bold and in your face.

“We wanted to make a gin that differentiated ourselves from the market,” said Smylie. “As far as we can see, we built a gin that first and foremost is unfiltered.

If you try (the peppercorn gin), the first thing is it’s unexpected, that’s the number one comment we get, that it’s ‘not what we expected at all.’ ”

The peppercorn infused gin is “built for a Caesar,” but it makes a great summer cocktail.

The spirits are transferred into 750 ml glass bottles and range in price from mid-$40s to high-$40s.

RAW offers its signature cocktails in a sample flight (three .5 oz spirit cocktails) for $15. To book a tour and sample tasting, visit www.rawspirits.ca.

RAW asks that patrons use the entrance at the back of the building.

RAW Parkway Caesar

Ingredients: RAW peppercorn gin, Parkway Clamato

Ferolly Polite

Ingredients: RAW peppercorn gin, strawberry cassia syrup, bitters and lime.

Ol’ Fashioned in the RAW

Ingredients: Raw rye with port finish, cola syrup, orange bitters and soda.