August 21, 2018
Alberta’s burgeoning spirits industry is an amazing thing. Thanks to changes in liquor laws a few years ago, more and more Albertans have been able to follow their dream of owning a craft distillery.
Susan Ransom and her husband Michael Guenzel are among those who went looking for a different way of life, and found their calling in the liquor business.
“We own a software company and when someone calls you at a software company they aren't calling you to tell you how wonderful you are, they are always calling to tell you that something's broken. We've been doing that since 1989 and we were looking for something where people were a little happier.”
Ransom and Guenzel decided to start their own distillery, Krang Spirits, after touring a distillery on Canada’s east coast.
“We walked into Ironworks Distillery which is a distillery right around the corner from our family house in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. They had opened a distillery in an old blacksmith shop and we walked in and saw the still and we said, ‘that's what we’re going to do,’ and that was about six years ago.”
Krang makes a variety of spirits out of its facility in Cochrane, Alberta. Krang’s Astra Clara Vodka, and Nimbulus Gin are two of their key offerings, plus they craft five fruit liquors too; Raspberry Krang, Sour Cherry Krang, Black Current Krang, Blueberry Krang and Blackberry Krang, alongside a honey liquor called Krang Krupnik, a coffee chocolate liqueur named Bad Billy, and Persephone, a hibiscus cranberry spirit.
“We go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that our product is extremely smooth,” says Ransom, who particularly extols the virtues of Krang’s unfiltered gin, which has a delicately cloudy appearance when chilled.
“Most commercial gins are either cold filtered or diluted, a lot of commercial gins are actually made by creating a concentrated botanical syrup which they pour into alcohol,” explains Ransom. “We actually do our gin by putting the botanicals in the alcohol and letting them soak and then distilling that. When you do that you get a higher level of essential oils. This actually takes our Gin back more to what gin was originally.”
Krang’s Nimbulus Gin has juniper, coriander, and a spice called “Grains of Paradise” flavouring it.
“Grains of Paradise is like a pepper; it’s from Africa. If you look it up it's also known as, 'the best spice you've never heard of.’ So it is this really smooth, aromatic gin, and way we’d recommend you serve it is to put it on ice with tonic and a twist of lemon.”
Ransom and Guenzel have taken a long and winding road to becoming liquor purveyors. They have the aforementioned software company, Susan owned gift shops at one point, and trained as a mycologist (and expert in fungi), while Michael has a background as a nuclear physicist. Admits Ransom, “we've done a lot of things already in our lives, so this was just different and fun.”
Find Krang Spirits at your local Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.
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