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Broken Spirits Distillery – Opening Doors Through Adversity


7 minute read

Starting a business can be a difficult task for every industry, now more than ever. The upfront capital required, real-estate licensing, the infrastructure regulations, fire safety guidelines, the list goes on. Not for the faint of heart. However, there is something amazing about the concept of crafting the perfect product, then aligning that with superb branding and executed by a talented team. Thankfully, this is a positive news story. Where three like-minded entrepreneurs are acting on their passion and motivation to work through adversity and build a business together.


(From Left: Chris Ainsworth, Jeff Robertson and Mark Willoughby)

Broken Spirits recently opened their doors to Calgarians, where you and your friends can enjoy highly refined spirits distilled at their location. Being well aware of these challenging times, Mark, Chris and Jeff, in line with the completion of their testing phase, decided that they wanted to bring some positivity to the wider community and open their doors. 

Jeff, Mark and Chris met in 1997 while working together at an Outback Steakhouse in Calgary. Building a strong friendship over twenty years, fast forward to two and a half years ago, they found themselves sitting around a table discussing a common interest to create their own brewery. After some thought and inspiration from some of their favourite gins, their interests pivoted to opening a distillery. Tying all of their experience, technical skills and industry acumen together, they felt confident in moving forward with starting their own brand. 

We all love a good origin story. After sipping some beautifully crafted gin and in conversation with Mark and Chris, they offer some additional insight behind starting Broken Spirits Distillery.

“As a trio, we have built it up to where we are today. It has always been more about a partnership, building through adversity and keeping our spirits up, which is where the name Broken Spirits originated. Our focus moving forward is now on comradery and the community here”

Located just off of 36th Street NE and the Trans Canada Highway, now open with reduced hours and capacity straight out of the gate. The team at Broken Spirits is welcoming new customers on select days of the week, specifically Thursday and Friday between 4:00pm to 9:00pm and Saturday 3:00pm to 9:00pm. Until the Alberta Health Service guidelines have been lightened, all bars, breweries and distilleries such as Broken Spirits, will continue to put the focus on customer safety as their top priority.

Like a party we are all invited to, Calgary breweries, bars and distilleries alike are one of my favourite examples of a strong community. As I claim to be no expert on this subject, Mark and Chris speak on what community means to them in the wake of their opening:

“We are a community within the three of us, extending to our families who have shown us a lot of support. In addition to that, we are very fortunate to have the location that chose. Even our parking lot is a community within itself with neighbours like Sunny Cider and Heathens Brewing. Even just blocks away, within the craft district that is building here, Toolshed Brewing and Common Crown brewing are building a community of their own.”

“Since our opening, we have had people coming in, posting on their social media and we have experienced a lot of interest in supporting businesses in this area. That even expands out of our area in the NE, where we have had visits from the broader craft distillery and brewery community in Calgary. It has been clear there is a real push from a group of people with a common goal – wanting to grow the community and the industry here in Calgary.”

Positive feedback is one surefire way to know that it can the right time to hit the ground running with the launch of new products. Fortunately for me as a ‘gin guy’, I had the opportunity to taste the Broken Spirits gin and their spiced sugar cane spirit. Safe to say with the care Jeff has put into the products, these three guys are on to something great. Chris and Mark offer their thoughts on the initial feedback they have received.

“The feedback has been very positive so far. We have experienced a lot of great comments on our branding and product packaging, designed by a local designer, has really captured our vision and created a brand that our community can connect with.”

 “We have also been getting really positive feedback on our spirits too. Either mixing it or drinking it straight, hearing customers say they can really connect with the flavours we have instilled in our products. To further that, we have experienced non-gin drinkers simply try our product and end up leaving with a bottle, which is huge.” 

If you are like me and you love gin, I would highly recommend visiting the Broken Spirits Distillery location and trying it for yourself. If you are more of a rum connoisseur, don’t forget to try the spiced sugar cane spirit before you go. Looking forward to learning more about the Broken Spirits brand as it continues to grow and I wish Chris, Mark and Jeff the best moving forward.

If you would like to learn more about the Broken Spirits Distillery or to check out the products and merch they have available, visit their website here or on their social media below.

Broken Spirits Instagram

Broken Spirits Facebook



For more stories, please visit Todayville Calgary


What the latest Bank of Canada rate hike means for inflation, consumers

Published on

By Tara Deschamps

The Bank of Canada hiked its key policy rate by half a percentage point to 4.25 per cent — the highest it’s been since January 2008 — on Wednesday in its final rate decision of a year that has been marked by stubbornly high inflation and rapidly increasing interest rates.

The bank, which has made a steady succession of large hikes over the course of the year, is widely believed to be nearing an end to the increases.

In announcing the rate hike Wednesday, the bank said it will consider whether the rate “needs to rise further to bring supply and demand back into balance and return inflation to target.”

Here’s a look at what the rate means, how analysts are interpreting it and what it could mean for consumers.

What is the key policy rate and what does it do?

The key policy rate, also known as the target for the overnight rate, is how much interest the Bank of Canada wants commercial banks to charge when lending each other money overnight to settle daily balances.

Knowing how much it costs to lend money, or deposit it with the central bank, helps set the interest rates charged on things like loans and mortgages.

Lowering the rate generally makes borrowing money more affordable, while raising it makes such activities more expensive.

Why is the bank using the rate to target inflation?

Inflation is a measure of how much prices of goods and services are rising or falling. High inflation is a sign of an economy that’s overheating.

Canada’s annual inflation rate reached a peak of 8.1 per cent in June, the highest level in four decades.

It has eased since then, reaching 6.9 per cent in September, but didn’t budge in October. And shoppers have seen higher prices for common expenses like groceries. Grocery prices have been rising at the fastest pace in decades and were 11 per cent higher in October than they were a year ago.

Economists and the central bank want to see a further easing, which is why interest rates have been rising so quickly in the hope of cooling consumer spending patterns.

“Inflation is still too high and short-term inflation expectations remain elevated,” the bank said in its announcement. “The longer that consumers and businesses expect inflation to be above the target, the greater the risk that elevated inflation becomes entrenched.”

What does this mean for my mortgage?

Mortgage rates tend to increase or decrease in tandem with interest rates.

When Canadians buy homes there are two kinds of mortgages they can select — fixed rate or variable. Fixed-rate mortgages allow borrowers to lock in the interest rate they will pay for a set amount of time, while variable-rate mortgages can fluctuate.

Allison Van Rooijen, vice-president of consumer credit at Meridian Credit Unit, estimates the rate hike Wednesday will bump payments on a $450,000 variable-rate mortgage on a 25-year amortization up another $130 or so every month. Since the beginning of 2022, rising rates have amounted to roughly $1,000 more per month since the beginning of 2022.

“Because of the high cost of housing in Canada and years of low borrowing rates, Canadians are carrying record-levels of debt on mortgages and lines of credit, so it’s really important that people go through their expenses and look to scale back discretionary spending where they can,” she said in an email.

She recommends people double down on efforts to pay off debt with higher interest rates as much as possible and if they are running into trouble making payments, discuss whether switching to another format of mortgage is right for them.

Does this mean interest rates will stop rising soon?

Shortly after the announcement, many economists predicted the bank isn’t done with hikes yet, even though the language in the statement signalled the possibility of holding steady at 4.25 per cent.

BMO Capital Markets chief economist Douglas Porter said a further hike of about 25 basis points is likely still to come because he’s concerned about the “stickiness of underlying inflation.”

James Orlando of TD Economics agreed. He expects the bank will deliver its final rate hike for the foreseeable future in January, bringing the measure to 4.5 per cent.

“We don’t think the Bank of Canada is done yet, but it is quickly approaching the end of its hiking cycle,” he wrote in a note to investors.

“As all Canadians know, the rapid rate hikes over 2022 have caused a dramatic adjustment in the real estate market, and we are starting to see this in consumer spending data. We expect this to continue to weigh on the economy over 2023 as the lagged effects of past hikes filter through.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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Experts raise concerns as Nigeria limits cash withdrawals

Published on

By Chinedu Asadu in Abuja

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Experts on Wednesday raised concerns over a new policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria that heavily limits withdrawals of money in a push for a cashless economy.

The monetary policy, which applies to ATMs, banks and cash back from purchases, follows the launch of the West African nation’s newly designed currency notes to control the money supply.

The central bank limited weekly over-the-counter cash withdrawals to 100,000 naira ($225) for individuals and 500,000 naira ($1,124) for corporations, with a processing fee required to access more.

When the policy takes effect in Jan. 9, ATMs will no longer dispense Nigeria’s high denominations of 1,000 naira ($2.25) and 500 naira ($1.10) while withdrawals from ATMs and point-of-sale terminals also will be limited to 20,000 naira ($45) daily.

“In compelling circumstances, not exceeding once a month, where cash withdrawals above the prescribed limits are required for legitimate purposes, such cash withdrawals shall not exceed 5,000,000 naira ($11,236) and 10,000,000 naira ($22,471) for individuals and corporations, respectively,” said Haruna Mustafa, the bank’s director of banking supervision.

Policymakers say the withdrawal limits and recent monetary initiatives from the central bank would bring more people into the banking system and curb currency hoarding, illicit flows and inflation.

But analysts worry that with digital payments often unreliable in Nigeria, the initiative could hurt daily transactions that people and businesses make.

“The policy is intended to cause discomfort, to move you from cash to cashless because they (the central bank) have said they want to make it uncomfortable and expensive for you to hold cash,” economic analyst Kalu Aja said.

“That is a positive for the CBN (because) the more discomforting they are able to achieve, the more people can move,” Aja said.

In Nigeria, the majority of people work in the informal sector — mainly activities outside of the legal framework and government regulation such as farming, street and market trade, and public transport. The economy is heavily dependent on this sector, and cash is usually preferred for transactions because many lack bank accounts.

Only 45% of adults in Nigeria have accounts with regulated financial institutions, according to the World Bank. In the absence of bank accounts, point-of-sale terminals have emerged as one of the fastest-growing areas of financial inclusion in the country.

Through the withdrawal limits, the central bank is “directly attacking” such agency banking services and “people will essentially begin to hoard their money,” said Tunde Ajileye, a partner at Lagos–based SBM Intelligence firm.

“It is not going to drive people to start to try doing electronic transactions. On the contrary, it is going to move people away from the financial institutions,” he said.

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