Behind the Name: Calgary's Broken Spirits Distillery

How one of Alberta's newest distilleries got its name

Last July, a new distillery opened its doors in Calgary and despite many unknowns related to the pandemic, it has found much success since.

Broken Spirits Distillery was founded by friends/co-owners Christ Ainsworth, Jeff Robertson and Mark Willoughby. The three met while working at Outback Steakhouse–now that's a throwback–in their early twenties and have remained friends ever since.

With a name like Broken Spirits, it's safe to assume that there's a tale to be told here...and perhaps even a funny one. Long story short, it involves a broken lawn chair during a camping trip in B.C.

“One evening around the campfire while many a drink was being had, Jeff ended up [falling] backwards and breaking an ancient lawn chair,” says Willoughby.

Naturally, the situation led to many laughs and wound up being told often as the years went on.

While the trio was in the planning stages for their distillery, many names were tossed around, but the story of the broken chair was continually brought up. Fundamentally, it seemed to represent the strong bond between the three gentlemen.

“Looking back, that is what the guys had found [between one another] over the last twenty plus years—good times, lots of laughs and great friends,” says Willoughby. “Times have not always been good, but this group of friends has always provided steady [get through] the hard times by lending a hand, providing a hug and delivering unconditional love.”

Broken Spirits Distillery is open for cocktails and spirit tastings from Thursdays to Saturdays.