Local Love Blog Series –
Wild Life Distillery
Words can hardly describe how excited we are to feature Matt Widmer, Owner and Operator of Wild Life Distillery in this Local Love Blog Series feature! Alongside his partner, Keith Robinson, and the whole team, Wild Life Distillery (WLD) has created a completely distinctive Rocky Mountain spirit experience.
What makes WLD so unique?
Matt says it’s their commitment to being honest, hardworking, and transparent.
They are building great business relationships, resulting in massive success by ensuring to always put forth their best effort in everything they do while staying accountable to their commitments.
WLD grew from a concept Matt pulled together in 2011 while living in Tofino.
However, it took until 2014 for legislation in Alberta to change and allow for craft distilling in the province. As soon as that happened, Matt and Keith knew they were in for a great ride and started working hard on their business plan. Initially starting with the simpler and quicker spirits, WLD is now able to offer Vodka, Gin, Amaro, Whisky, Bitters and Syrups – almost all of which (Whisky to come soon!) can be purchased online, or at the distillery and tasting room on Bow Meadows Crescent in Canmore.
Matt is no stranger to the Bow Valley, including small business ownership.
Matt is what we would consider a “true local” having grown up in Banff with his parents and three siblings. His father purchased Ticino’s Restaurant in Banff in 1979 and has spent the past 42 years hard at work keeping the family business going. Matt’s experience managing the restaurant alongside his family helped give him a strong foundation for what it took to run a small local business.
Matt loves the potential for growth and creativity in his work with WLD.
His belief that continuous learning is always possible is cherished within WLD, as Matt continues his personal and business growth. His favourite part of the business currently is recipe development for new gin and whisky. Drawing inspiration from delicious products on the market, WLD finds their new whisky to be the biggest motivator recently and hope to be able to release some amazing whisky in the next couple of years.
WLD has become a household name in the Bow Valley, but these guys have huge goals for worldwide distribution.
In building a strong brand that resonates with anyone pursuing an active, outdoor lifestyle, WLD is already working on export plans for its products. They are starting with the US now and looking to expand into the Asian market in 2022. That being said, Matt and Keith aren’t blind to the amazing support from the Bow Valley since day one.
WLD has had amazing support from the team at the Rundle Bar in the Fairmont Banff Springs, and the cocktails they’ve created are beyond delicious.
Of course, we asked Matt what other Bow Valley businesses were doing great work and he wanted to make sure these great locals got a shout-out: Alexis Mckeown Photography, Mad Dog Curry, Rudi Peet Goldsmith, Fireweed Glass Studio, Canmore Yoga Lounge, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co., and Where the Buffalo Roam Saloon.
Matt also wanted to point out the incredible work being done at Rocky Mountain Adaptive. The team is passionate about making the mountains an accessible place for everyone by “providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate, learn, and excel at mountain sports and recreation.” They are inspiring amazing people to get outside and enjoy the activities they love!
As WLD is finally able to reopen their tasting room and patio for 7-day/week service, they’ve been able to reflect on the trials and tribulations of the past year.
They’ve learned to just hold the course and that ultimately, quality will always trump fads or trends over time. Their biggest challenge now is keeping up with the demand for new products, while maintaining their high-standards and adding to their daily operations during continued growth.
Matt’s top tip for new business owners since opening WLD is to stay focused – along with making time for coffee and yoga every day!
Tackling projects one at a time, over a steady period of time will allow you to build something awesome. Being able to tune out the millions of daily distractions and focusing on your goals, short or long term, will pay off. Arguably, Matt wishes this was the case for people in general, not just when it comes to business.
He would love to see more people putting their phones down and choose to focus on books, conversations, and connections – maybe over a cocktail or two.
You can catch Matt down at the river fly fishing, on the trails mountain biking in the summer, ski touring in the winter, and hopefully soon abroad catching some waves.
If you’re not as much of an outdoor enthusiast as he is, no worries! You can always go visit the tasting room to try Matt’s favourite cocktail, the Barrel-aged Gin Negroni (which also happens to be my favourite)! Make sure to follow Wild Life Distillery on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with their latest cocktail menu and their Whisky release!
Either way, make sure to pick up your favourite spirit and syrups so that you’re never short on the ingredients for a truly Wild Life.
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