THE LIBERTY DISTILLERY
Written by Allison Atkins /// Photography by David Donaldson, The Liberty Distillery
istilling spirits has become such a swiftly growing trade
In 2008, Robert decided that after tasting and evaluating
that one’s story is just as important as the product itself. professionally for more than 35 years it was time to manifest
Lisa Colls Simpson, co-founder of The Liberty Distillery in
his dream of opening up a distillery. For Lisa’s part, after going
Vancouver, British Columbia reflects: “Artisan people in general
through breast cancer in 2009 she was determined to pursue her
are passionate about their craft and the artisan spirit industry is
appetite for adventure. The two joined forces and combined their
filled with people dedicated to creating their version of a unique, experience in the industry, along with previous entrepreneurial high quality spirit. Every distillery has a personality and story to tell.” Lisa, along with her husband Robert Simpson, founded The Liberty Distillery in 2010 on Granville Island.
knowledge, and jump-started their own distillery. The cliché that good things never come easy could not be truer for this couple. Lisa and Robert faced many adversities
In hindsight, Lisa and Robert may not have opened their own
when trying to launch The Liberty Distillery. “Most people in
distillery if they had known how long it would take them to get
the spirit industry agree ‘barriers to entry’ are enormous. The
started. What Lisa and Robert’s story teaches an aspiring distiller obvious being the amount of invested time prior to generating is that patience is necessary and the amount of time invested in opening a distillery is monumental.
cash flow, capital requirements and cash outlay, complying with regulatory requirements for a ‘High Hazard’ industry, overcoming
Lisa has had a wide-ranging career spanning different industry
by-laws and building codes in a highly regulated market.” But
and geographical locations. She has worked in Tokyo, Miami, New
these common barriers of the trade seemed exponentially larger
York, and Vancouver, working in industries ranging from banking
for Lisa and Robert.
to marketing, and she even had a stint as a pastry chef. Robert,
It took approximately 18 months to secure their Approval in
on the other hand, is a well sought-after wine tasting expert with
Principal, all the while paying rent for the lease. Once the couple
a very developed palate. He has been on several tasting panels
obtained the proper paperwork, the construction process took
domestically and internationally.
on a life of its own. They were required to gain approval from
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.