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An entrepreneurial spirit

Concordia grad and former TV producer Maureen David distills an unusual career change
September 14, 2015
By Samantha Costello

Communication studies alumna Maureen David, BA 84, recently made a brave career move.

Maureen David Maureen David, BA 84, is president of 1769 Distillery in Verdun, Que.

After 14 years in television broadcasting, David decided to enter the spirit production market. As president of 1769 Distillery, she handles administration, sales and marketing.

“Opening my own business was always a dream at the back of my mind,” David says from her facility in Verdun, Que. “I was working long hours in television production and loving every second, but I still felt like there was a path I had yet to take.”

David works with her husband Andrew Mikus, vice-president of 1769 Distillery and president of digital post-production company Station 29. Mikus became a certified master distiller and created the company’s feature product, Madison Park London Dry gin. 

She and Mikus always enjoyed discovering distilleries when they travelled and had visited ones in the United Kingdom, Nova Scotia and along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. “After every vacation we’d say, ‘We should do that,’ before heading back to work in television.”

David, a native Montrealer, was aware of the city’s historic distilling culture — the namesake 1769 marks the founding year of the first Quebec distillery. 

Madison Park London Dry gin made the cover of the American Distilling Institute’s Distiller Magazine.

She also saw a gap in the market. Seagram, once the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages worldwide, was headquartered in Montreal for many decades. Yet after Seagram was dismantled at the end of the 1990s, there was no alcohol production in Montreal — until David and Mikus got their license for 1769 Distillery last year.

“We wanted to bring the art of distilling back into the city by opening an urban locale,” she says.

Though she was careful to do her research in advance, David eventually had to cross a point of no return. “Quebec will not issue permits until all the equipment is set up,” she explains. “It was a major investment that took over a year.”

After getting licensed, the next process was entering the retail market. David submitted a batch of Madison Park to the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) in January to get it on shelves for October 2015.

The SAQ liked it so much David decided to send it to the American Distilling Institute (ADI) too.

To her surprise, Madison Park won best of category and best of class, and was awarded a gold medal at the ADI 2015 Spirits Competition last spring.

After making a strong entrance, David is planning expansion into other provincial liquor stores and international markets. In addition to gin, Mikus is currently producing a vodka and aging a rye whiskey that will be ready in December 2017.

David is quick to describe how her background in communications and project management started at Concordia.

“I had an internship through the journalism department, and it led to my first paying job in radio news,” she says. “I got that first job thanks to hands-on exposure at Concordia.”

David wrote copy and cleared wire before working her way up to directing TV shows.

“From pre-production to post-production, many of the skills I learned at Concordia can be applied to any industry — including the one I’m in now,” she says.

Although consumers will have to wait for the Madison Park to hit SAQ shelves in October before trying the award-winning gin, 1769 Distillery already sells bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup at gourmet grocers in Montreal and across Canada.


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