Fruit-infused vodkas and smooth-tasting whiskeys do not happen by accident.
There is a careful balance that takes place where the measuring of fruit and grains blends with a unique distilling process to create the ideal blend.
Kyle is the head distiller at Lucky Bastard Distillers and is the man who creates the product recipes for the Saskatoon-based company. Coming up with the perfect mix, he says, can be a time-consuming and challenging undertaking. But the end result is worth the effort.
“It’s like a big science lab in here sometimes,” he says. “I get to test things out to see what works and what doesn’t work. That’s an example of the freedom that I have with the job.”
Kyle joined the Lucky Bastard team in 2014 as a bottler and eventually ascended to the head distiller role, which he has held for four years. He says it is not a job that requires a decorated science background, but one that does entail plenty of trial and error.
“You definitely learn as you go,” he says. “There are some courses you can take to pick up on things, but for the most part it’s a lot of just learning what works through trial and error.”
Experience in the restaurant industry helps too. He says being around food is where he picked up on different flavour ideas and flavour trends and knowing what ingredients may work well together.
He was a fan of Lucky Bastard products before he was hired. His admiration of the company has grown ever since.
“It’s a smaller business with a tight-knit, family feel,” he says. “I like that I have a lot of freedom to do my job and there isn’t really anyone here to step on my toes. There is a lot of trust that comes with that …and I know I have the support behind me too. That says a lot about who the people are here.”
A head chef and a head distiller are similar in that they are particular in what goes into their products. Kyle is responsible for coordinating with local suppliers for ingredients – fruits and grains – and is in constant communication with the existing suppliers and potential new ones to see what they can offer to the Lucky Bastard product line.
He is also talking with other producers in the province.
“We’ll bounce ideas off one another all the time. We’ll get a good idea of what the other guys are doing and what they’re trying,” he says. “It’s nice to do that … there’s not this big competition between all of us. We are all fairly young in this industry. Not only does the whole company feel like a family, but the industry in general is really close that way too.”
Kyle says he is excited with how the industry in Saskatchewan is growing both in terms of the number of companies but also with product popularity. He sensed skepticism at first but says that has evaporated over time.
“When I started, a lot of people had the moonshine, bathtub gin stigma in their head,” he says. “But now that there are so many distilleries opening up, some that may be opening in their own small town or in their neighbourhood in the city, people are a lot more receptive to the idea of it. The industry is growing, and our products are selling.”
Written by By Charlton Communications