Jordan Ramey, Marko Cilic & Ivan Cilic of Burwood Distillery in Calgary
Even as their business faced unprecedented challenges, Burwood Distillery owners Jordan Ramey, Marko Cilic and Ivan Cilic embraced the responsibility of supporting their community, transforming their small batch facilities to produce much-needed hand sanitizer for Calgarians.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is our world right now and it is our responsibility to make the world a better place through our actions.” – Jordan Ramey, co-owner of Burwood Distillery.
Not a lot of homebuyers end up going into business with their realtor. But that was the unlikely connection that led Jordan Ramey and Ivan Cilic to discover their shared passion for small batch brews and spirits. A few years later, Ivan’s brother, Marko joined in and the trio began to conceptualize what would become Burwood Distillery – celebrating Alberta’s agriculture through old-world craftsmanship and local ingredients.
“We had a vision for a distillery that would provide Albertans with authentic, hand-crafted products to pair with all those moments worth drinking to,” says co-owner Jordan Ramey.
The distillery quickly became a community fixture – but their commitment to Calgarians was totally reshaped with the arrival of COVID-19. In the early days of the pandemic, the team took action by pivoting from production of hand-crafted spirits to "hand crafted hand sanitizer".
To Jordan’s team, the move was a natural fit. “As a distillery, we crank out ethanol every day, all day.” In early March, they began working with provincial and national government officials to gain necessary licensing and turn their spirits into sanitizer, immediately ramping up production.
Through it all, Burwood Distillery has been offering handcrafted spirits and canned cocktails to Albertans via "grab-n-go" pickup and free local delivery. “We’ve seen cocktail lounges and brew pubs struggling due to tap room closures,” Ramey says, “But the distilleries and breweries came together almost immediately to start producing sanitizer for folks as well as offering direct-to-consumer delivery.”
Everyone’s role has changed, particularly in back-of-house – but Burwood’s head chef and head server have been able to stay on board and lead a second shift for sanitizer production.
The distillery has also made a number of donations to Alberta charities, and has partnered with other organizations to assist with the current challenges of supply chain management.
To his grateful customers, Ramey offers some sage words of advice: “Stay home, stay safe, support local. It's not every day you can save lives by bingeing Netflix and sipping a craft cocktail.”
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