03 Nov 2023 Meet the Distiller – Whiskey Wednesdays
If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Ian Michaud, our head distiller and co-founder, allow us to introduce you!
Born and raised in Yarmouth and creative from the beginning, Ian discovered his love for building and tinkering in his grandfather and father’s garage and workshop. His passion for creating didn’t stop with houses, cars, or farm equipment; it soon blended with his love for all things theater. Painting, sculpting, and building turned into a degree in Technical Theatre from Boston University. After graduating, his degree propelled him to a career working backstage for 12 years on Broadway building sets for shows around the world, where he eventually met his wife on tour for ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ (love a good meet-cute). And while his main focus is now distilling, you can see his work throughout the restaurant, from the handmade bar that he crafted with family to the raw-edge solid wood tables throughout the dining room. Even our beautiful deck was hand-crafted by Ian in true Maine barn-raising fashion.
While living in San Antonio, his brother Eric, whom he had helped design and build Novare Res Bier Cafe with, presented him with another idea. Eric, after successfully opening the beer garden we all know and love, wanted to open his own brewery with a distillery and full restaurant, the first of its kind in Maine! Ian, while having experience drinking booze, had never made it himself, so he started reading, attended classes, and eventually made trips to Kentucky. After some thought, he accepted this new position and moved back to Maine.
‘It’s funny; as a kid, I couldn’t wait to get out of Maine and see the world. I didn’t appreciate what I had here—the outdoors, the small and welcoming communities, the beauty. After seeing so much more of the world, I now have great respect for where we are. I am very happy to be back here now.’
Learning to distill, in Ian’s words, was “trial by fire.” They read, took classes, but ultimately learned on their own, and with Eric’s experience in beer fermentation, they were able to create mash for the distillery and get down to business. He found the transition from the world of theater to hospitality to be a comforting change. ‘It’s pretty amazing how similar this industry is to the theatre world. In theatre, it’s all about putting on a show for the audience. The same can be said for a restaurant. In order to succeed, you must provide a good experience for the customer. The show must go on! Running a brewery, distillery, and restaurant can be pretty intense. There’s lots going on and lots of challenges to overcome. The same can be said for putting on a Broadway show, so I feel my training prepared me quite well for my current role.’
The concept for Liquid Riot was never to be a mass-produced product. They wanted us to be an experience all on our own—a distinctive destination. The production of our spirits was rooted in having a wide selection that supported a full cocktail program and spirits for all palates, just like our beer. He finds our beer-based spirits (Bierschnapps and Bonfire Spirit) the most interesting to make, but his passion lies in making whiskey. ‘I am very proud to be able to source the majority of our grains from within the State. To help support Maine agriculture and other local businesses with the products that we make is very fulfilling. It also doesn’t hurt that our whiskey tastes pretty great as well!’
His current favorite is our Single Malt: ‘I am really enjoying our Single Malt now that it is fully mature. At 5 years in the barrel, it has great Scotch-like qualities: smooth, sweet, and soft on the palate, with a nice lingering smokiness. It’s a great sipper, especially for a chilly evening around the campfire.’
‘We’re now 10 years into this crazy adventure. It’s been a pretty wild ride, especially the recent years with all the chaos in the world. I’ve learned a lot, met some fantastic people, and am very happy with the products we produce. I can’t really say that I have a favorite memory about this trip so far, as everything has been memorable and enjoyable for the most part, but I certainly look forward to what the future brings. I would really like to help make Maine whiskey recognized around the world!’
Join us on Wednesday’s for exclusive whiskey tastings led by Ian. Explore the remarkable journey that led to our unique spirits, and experience the passion behind the craft! To book your spot (no fee) email firstname.lastname@example.org