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Founded by David Farran in 2014 in the town of Turner Valley, Eau Claire Distillery makes award-winning handcrafted spirits, canned cocktails, and a line of non-alcoholic tonics using Alberta-grown ingredients. This certified farm distillery is located on Alberta’s Cowboy Trail, and all the artisanal spirits are made with Alberta barley that is harvested using traditional farming methods. Visitors to the distillery can enjoy a behind-the-scenes tasting tour and see what goes into making award-winning spirits.

Eau Claire Distillery has won many international awards including Canada Gin Distillery of the year at the 2018 Berlin International Spirits Competition and Alberta Gin Distillery of the Year at the New York Spirits Competition. You can find Eau Claire products at the Calgary Farmers’ Market and at Alberta liquor stores.

Faces of Alberta Tourism: Eau Claire Distillery
David Farran

We interviewed Farran about what helped his business stay resilient during the challenges of COVID-19, and how tourism in Alberta can recover and grow even stronger post-pandemic.

What helped you stay resilient over the past year, and how has your business evolved?

Our business was resilient because of the determination of Albertans to support local. We made connections to customers we wouldn’t otherwise have met. We couldn’t always serve cocktails or offer food because of restrictions, but shoppers still came to visit.

With health and travel restrictions in place since the start of the pandemic, many businesses realized the importance of having a strong digital strategy – easy-to-navigate websites, user-friendly e-commerce opportunities, and staying connected with customers on social media. What was the best new digital strategy you implemented (or saw implemented) this year?

When you can’t meet in-person, social media is the next best place to connect. Our digital community grew exponentially, both purchasing our product online for delivery and giving us purpose in upgrading our website and keeping people in touch with what was happening in our Eau Claire world. We pivoted to home delivery and an enhanced Canada-wide digital community. We think this will result in more visitors when people are free to travel.

What are your hopes for the future of Alberta’s tourism industry? How will your business play a role in that?

I think Alberta has undervalued our tourism potential for many years. Now that we have shown our stripes to Albertans, the world is also on our doorstep. If there is one thing we are sure of, people want to get out of their home prisons and experience the world again. If we jump on this building need for travel – near and far – we can rebuild our industry much larger than before. We continue to invest in attracting visitors and are looking three to five years ahead on how to build our visitor numbers.

What do you wish the rest of the world knew about tourism in Alberta?


Alberta is safe, secure and has unparalleled scenic beauty. In addition to being an outdoor playground beyond compare, it is a place of exceptional culinary experiences.

David Farran

Albertans have played a key role in keeping many tourism businesses afloat during the pandemic. Why should Albertans continue to explore the province even when it’s possible to travel elsewhere?

The pandemic woke us all up to our exceptional backyard. So many Albertans visited Eau Claire Distillery, only 40 minutes outside Calgary, and were astounded to find a region of such beauty and character with so many things to do. I think the pandemic introduced the Foothills region in a way that it will become a reliable and trusted recreational destination.

How can industry work together to recover and build even stronger post-pandemic?

Most tourism economies have a well-established structure of wholesale/retail/packages and transportation. We need to focus on working together as experience providers to build vacations and full-day, multi-activity experiences. If we can all work together – hotels, experiences, activities, transport, marketing – we stand a better chance for success. In addition, we need to help each other build more product infrastructure, so there are more “things to do” and “places to see” in the region.

What is your favourite memory of traveling in Alberta?

When I was young, we went as a family to Kananaskis every weekend for hiking and fishing. Those camping trips will always be some of my happiest memories.

What is your favourite “hidden gem” in Alberta?

I love the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. It is a fantastic showcase of Alberta’s unique cowboy culture. It is a fascinating historical site, and it is located in one of the most stunning foothills vistas in Alberta. 

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