If you won 14.6 million dollars in the lottery, what would you do? If you’re anything like (the still practicing) Dr. Michael Goldney, you’d start up Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s award-winning Lucky Bastard Distillers. And yes—that name would be a reference to the unusually abundant situation you’d found yourself in. The inspiration for the name came shortly after Michael found out he’d won big. He was buying a case of champagne for his wife (and ultimate co-founder) Lacey when the woman behind him in the line-up asked what the occasion was. When he told her, she said, “Lucky bastard!”
A few years later, when Michael and Lacey were out with their friend Cary Bowman, he mentioned the fact that Saskatoon hadn’t had a distillery since Prohibition. Would their luck be strong enough to launch a successful venture of this complexity? They joined forces and set out to find out.
“At first, Michael was very excited to make whiskey,” says Meghan Haukaas, Lucky Bastards’ Marketing Coordinator. “But whiskey needs to be aged for at least three years, and Michael has too much respect for the history and integrity of that liquor to cut corners. He soon realized that vodka was going to have to pay the bills in the meantime.
Of course, just because vodka can be produced more quickly and simply doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to be premium. And Lucky Bastard has definitely expressed that potential.
“First, we make our vodka with Saskatchewan wheat. Then, we distill it 7 times. Each time you distill, you get a higher quality liquor. Most producers distill 5 times on average, but we want to really take out the ethanol flavour, that harsh afterbite that vodka can have. We do this so that when flavours are added they really shine through.”
This is why Lucky Bastard has become known for their flavoured vodkas, and increasingly, their ready-to-drink Zero Sugar Saskatoon Berry Iced Tea. Thanks to the popularity of these products, growth has been intense since they opened their doors in 2012. Meghan is quick to credit a large part of this growth to a successful packaging strategy, and their talented Graphic Designer/Marketing Manager Chantal Tuttreon.
“The iconic pin-up branding has really resonated with our customers. And we’re really happy to be working with Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC) as our folding carton producer. We started with GLBC in 2019 and as our product offerings grew, so did our relationship with their team. Our colourful and incredibly detailed packaging is not only printed exactly how we want it, but we also get very valuable feedback from their team on all our designs.”
Thanks to their savvy branding and commitment to quality, Lucky Bastards’ original 3,000 square foot distillery has been replaced by a 15,000 square foot facility. They frequently hold special events like weddings and cocktail classes in their space, while distillers work diligently to ship products across Canada. Their team now features production, marketing, event, and retail staff. And what a team it is.
“This team is full of amazing people, which is what makes it such a great place to work. A lot of our spouses tell us how jealous they are because we get to work somewhere that we truly enjoy. And 70-80% of us are women, including one of our distillers. I think that’s really cool.”
With a number of new products on the horizon, the Lucky Bastard team is feeling excited for what’s ahead. Meghan says that “their door is always open” and the one thing they like best is to welcome people into their jaw-dropping space. Go pay them a visit! We’re so proud of what these partners of ours have built.