to stay small
The Story of Last Mountain Distillery || written by Jordana Shell || pHOTOs By Sammy Golom In the heart of southern Saskatchewan is where one couple’s dream of a micro-distillery is flourishing. Back in 2010, newly
born. Last Mountain will go into history as Saskatchewan’s very first micro-distillery.
married Colin and Meredith Schmidt were enjoying a holiday in
The humble duo would’ve been happy had their vodka sold
Last Mountain Regional Park, when they firmly decided upon two
at least 200 bottles in the first month of operation. Instead, in
things for their future.
the company’s opening weekend they sold well over that mark.
One: they wanted to run a business together which would allow In addition, Last Mountain’s sales predictions for one year were them flexibility for their sprouting family.
outdone in just three months, and by the end of their first year in
Two: they wanted this business to generate quality products for operation they had already exceeded their 5 year goal. its consumers.
These two pioneers in Saskatchewan quickly realized that their
And so the idea for a micro-distillery began to bloom in their tiny garage was no match for their customer’s insatiable thirst for minds. Over the next while the newlyweds poured over Ian
Last Mountain’s vodka. Things
tougher for the tiny operation. Even with all of their sales and
community sought was
up its own problems. The family was stepping on each other’s toes as they worked in the incredibly tight space trying to keep up with the demand for their product. Negotiating with suppliers for smaller loads of things
Left to right: Ryker Schmidt, Colin Schmidt, Meredith Schmidt, Shannon Babey, and Darryl Babey
like bottle caps and labeling was a challenge. Suppliers
Smiley’s book, “Making Pure Corn Whiskey: A Professional
were not used to dealing with such small loads that a micro
Guide for Amateur and Micro Distillers.” It was the “...bible of distillery asked for. They were growing too quickly and they distilling for us...” as Colin puts it. Colin emailed Ian, hoping
needed a solution, fast.
to get some direction for their budding idea and much to their
That solution came in the form of Darryl and Shannon Babey,
delight, Ian responded. Their correspondence quickly developed
local supporters of Last Mountain Distillery. These two provided
into a working relationship and even now, Ian is the Schmidt’s
the funding and the growth management that the company
desperately needed. Colin and Meredith then consulted with
Within the year, Colin and Meredith converted a less than Ian Smiley about a better distillery unit and he suggested they glorious 500 square foot garage into their workspace. Last
speak with Steven Cage, a co-founder and designer at Artisan
Mountain Distillery, named in honor of their marriage place, was