This is Baptiste Gissinger, founder of Expedition Gin and co-owner of Maison Livernois in Quebec City.
Baptiste grew up in France. His parents were working the land and moved around a lot, he stopped counting how many times he moved when he was 23 years old and had moved 32 times already. When Baptiste was about 10 years old, he started to be curious about travelling and slowly decided he wanted to see the world. When his mother would put him to bed, he would wait until she left to open his bed side table lamp and look at his world map, imagining different itineraries to see all the countries out there. Eventually, he came up with a round the world trip itinerary and dreamed to do it one day. He spent most of his 20’s travelling and eventually realized his dream. He spent 4 years doing his round the world trip before moving to Québec.
Baptiste started to work in the hospitality industry because of his travels. It was a great way to make money fast and allowed him to keep on travelling. However, he did many other things in different fields such as picking tobacco, working on petrol sites, designing menswear fashion clothes, being a blacksmith, and even more.
He eventually opened his own restaurant in Quebec City and this is when he fell in love with the world of spirits. He had to work behind the bar and train his team, and that is when he realized that he knew next to nothing about spirits. He started to read and to learn in order to teach them, and next thing you knew, he was completely in love with this world. He joined Quebec’s Scotch and Whiskey Club and developed a fascination for the art of distilling. He started Quebec’s Rum Club where he would present 1500 rums per year and kept on reading and learning while running his restaurant. During 6 years following his restaurant opening, Baptiste was working 7 days a week and took 4 weeks off during this whole time. Eventually, he lost his restaurant and decided that he did not want to go back to this lifestyle.
After a few difficult months of processing the events that led to the closing of his establishment, he decided to take a trip across the Pan-American Highway for 6 months and came up with a new project: Expedition Gin. This was a way for him to bring together two of his biggest passions: distillation and travels. He would create spirits that would tell stories. Stories of his travels, but also stories of people and cultures. He travelled to the Maritimes for 2 months and hand-picked the aromatics to make his first edition of Expedition Gin. Then he bought an old truck and drove to Mexico, where he distilled Chapusa (a Mayan traditional beverage) in 20 litres clay pots. His goal is always to create small batches of spirits using traditional methods and ingredients. The next destination is still a mystery, but we suggest you keep posted and follow his work closely if you want to get your hands on one of his bottles. For obvious reasons, they fly off the shelf extremely fast.
Today, while Baptiste continues to work on Expedition gin, he is also the co-owner of Maison Livernois, a distillery and pub in the heart of Quebec City. In parallel, he does a lot of consulting with micro-distilleries across the province. With time, Baptiste became a reference in the world of distilling and is behind most of the best gins produced in Quebec. Meeting with him was one of the most inspiring encounters we made from coast to coast. We hope that he will be able to carry his project and passion through the pandemic and we really look forward to get our hands on one of his precious bottles!
A little bit more about Baptiste...
The three words that describe him best: adventurous – curious – constantly self-questioning
Life moto: Open your eyes, explore, fight for what you want, live before it’s too late and make your life an epic one.
One thing he has yet to achieve on his life to-do list: Go to Kamchatka, in eastern Russia. It is only accessible for scientists teams and the Russian army. The soil over there is extremely volcanic and all the colours of nature we are used to are completely different over there.
Biggest lesson his job taught him: Authenticity is the most important thing people should carry in their craft and in their business. If we don’t want to get lost in our society, we have to make sure we don’t lose our authenticity.
Advice he offers future distillers: People think that distilling is easy. It is not. The truth is that even after doing it for 8 years and spending more than 10 000 hours doing it, he still learns something new every day. Which means that it is possible to push it very, very far.