Small-batch craft distilling is a growing trend in numerous cities right now, including right here in Calgary. Joining the fray is Secret Barrel, and the first spirit they are producing already sets them apart from their peers.
Launching with a white rum, Secret Barrel is sidestepping–for now–the typical pattern of kicking off production with a vodka and/or a gin. They’re able to do this, Secret Barrel’s Adam MacDonald tells Calgary Buzz by phone, because they are using the facilities at nerby Highwood while they continue to search for an ideal space of their own.
MacDonald says he and his colleagues are keen to find a location in Calgary that will be a “cool and modern space,” with capacity to hold events in the back–particularly because the distilling equipment has a high visual appeal. (Or, as MacDonald says, “it looks so cool!”)
Further plans for the distillery-to-be include a tasting room with the ability to style it for seasonal themes, for example Tiki in summer and speakeasy in the winter.
While these are all plans for the future, MacDonald walks me through his journey to craft distilling, and what has become Secret Barrel. MacDonald says he started brewing beer as a university student in Nova Scotia, and had the opportunity to work with his uncle in Ottawa at his Kichesippi Beer Company. MacDonald followed this up post-grad by spending several years in the beer biz in Calgary, until he and some friends turned their interest to craft distilling, and an idea–and a white rum–was born.
Because the crew at Secret Barrel want to mirror the creativity going on with the craft beer industry–and because this is a bit of a foray into new territory for them–they’ve opted to be a little mysterious with their origin story. Check out their website, and their story of a man emerging from the mountains with rum and his “superhuman swagger,” to get a taste of their playful ways.
To introduce Calgarians to their Secret Barrel white rum there is a launch event Thursday, May 19 at 80th and Ivy. There will be a live DJ, a bartending competition, an interactive social media photobooth, drink samples, and full cocktails available, including concoctions like a Rum Old Fashioned, a Spice Girl Sour, and a collab with Fiasco Gelato called The Dirty Float. While they have been distributing tickets already, MacDonald says those interested in checking out the rum and the party can head over and join the gathering.
For MacDonald, he’s excited for people to try Secret Barrel’s rum. He says he likes drinking it neat, though he admits he’s probably in the minority when it comes to treating it like a sipping rum. Alternatively, MacDonald says Secret Barrel white rum works well mixed with soda, or with chocolate bitters and coffee on a colder day.
Secret Barrel Distillery Launch Party
When: Thursday, May 19 at 7 pm
Where: 80th and Ivy Modern Kitchen, 1127 17 Avenue SW