Distillerie Stadaconé: Education, Production and Escape Game

Façade de la Distillerie Stadacone
Simon Jodoin / Tour du Québec

In the thriving and trendy Limoilou neighbourhood of Québec City, the Distillerie Stadaconé has, in just one year, become the pride of the district. The innovative trio of founders put their creative juices to work and developed a comprehensive and original experience for their visitors. This is the first distillery in Québec offering an escape game, an educational component and coloured gin tastings. 

Nestled right next to the lively 3e Avenue and more than a dozen great restaurants (including Arvi, recently ranked Canada’s best new restaurant), the Distillerie Stadaconé is becoming as well known as the neighbouring Rivière Saint-Charles.

The distillery’s name is what first piques people’s curiosity. It hails directly from the 16th century, from the Iroquois village next to which Jacques Cartier set up his first camp. 

“The distillery is exactly mid-way between this village and the spot the French chose for their campsite,” explained co-founder and president Jean-Pierre Allard. “This is what inspired us... It’s often in the context of an encounter, a get-together, that people enjoy a good drink. In our case, we’re harkening back to the great encounter between the Europeans and the First Nations, which occurred just metres from here, if not on this very spot.”

Jean-Pierre’s co-founders—Alexandre Thomas, Marketing Director, and Jonathan Chrétien, Director of Operations and recipe developer—are former colleagues with whom he worked at a high-tech firm. The friends wanted to create a business together that would be a reflection of who they are, allowing them to interact with people and offer an experience to visitors who love spirits. 

This led to the creation of a 20-minute escape game as an add-on to the distillery tours and tastings. The “Land Ho!” activity is based on the following scenario: the captain of a ship has just arrived in Stadaconé and is dying of scurvy. Visitors have to quickly find five ingredients to concoct a remedy to save him. The game takes place in a room designed like a 16th-century boat, and involves solving riddles and encounters with Indigenous people. Clever participants are rewarded with a gin tasting at a boat-shaped bar. 

“Visitors then shift to modern day and are shown the steps involved in the alcohol production process, including an explanation on how to make whisky from beer. This type of tour rarely includes this level of detail. The distillery’s educational component is very interesting and customers really appreciate it. That's what we wanted: to host people and have them emerge from the experience changed.” 

Stadaconé can also boast that it’s the first distillery in Québec to offer a bottle deposit system. Several regulars have developed the habit of bringing back their empties, which the distillery makes a point of recycling. This aligns well with the trio’s values, which include ensuring that their workplace is within walking or cycling distance from home. 

A Meeting Place, a Neighbourhood Life

Limoilou and 3e Avenue have become a destination unto themselves. Residents of this neighbourhood—which many compare to Montréal’s Mile End for its eclectic inhabitants, cafés and restaurants—and other city dwellers now mingle with a growing number of foreign visitors. So it’s no coincidence that the gin bottles are labelled “Limoilou, Québec.” 

“Local residents have told us ‘You’re the pride of our neighbourhood!’ and we feel this pride whenever we see our products at the SAQ and in restaurants. We truly love our work because our customers leave here happy, having appreciated their experience.”

At the moment, Stadaconé has three coloured gins. Bleu (which turns violet when you add tonic because of the properties of the macerated butterfly pea flower!), Rouge and Noir, which is actually translucent.   

“We wanted to set ourselves apart from other gins in two ways. First, by distancing ourselves from the famous London Dry Gin, which contains 80% juniper berry, 10% coriander and 5% cardamom, with a mere 5% left for creativity,” explained Jean-Pierre Allard. We add less juniper, which makes for a softer gin that can be enjoyed on its own. And second, by adding less common ingredients such as cranberry, which we macerate for our red gin, elderflower (not the berry), privately imported Australian botanicals, kaffir lime leaf and African galanga spice for an ‘international’ gin that transports people to exotic locales.” 

 

And the team intends to keep up its momentum. It’s working on a spirit based in part on a mysterious, “little-known berry that grows in Québec­.” Once the secret is out, you’ll have one more reason to visit the Distillerie Stadaconé. Since the young company is focused on a comprehensive educational experience around distillation, ingredients and its products, you’ll be able to learn all about this concoction. 

distillerie Stadacone
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Distillerie Stadaconé: Education, Production and Escape Game
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