A Legacy Sparks
It began with an exodus from the American Badlands where the Hansen ancestry had originally settled. Embracing a new century and the hope it promised, they boarded a train at different times and traveled toward a better life until the railway ran out of tracks in the midlands of Alberta.
That’s where Carl, a widowed single father of one, met Amanda. Both had fled from their homeland with their families. Both sought refuge in a devoted partnership. And on a warm summer’s eve, over an ice cream at a baseball game, Carl and Amanda met and fell in love. And the Hansen legacy was born.
Starting to Shine
Soon after they married and had two more sons, the Hansens began making moonshine.
Not like some big crime family, profiteering on US Liquor laws.
No. This was about survival.
It was the depths of the Depression. Carl was working odd jobs, but like everyone, struggled to make ends meet and fend for his young family. They were proud people—they didn’t take handouts, even in the hardest of times.
So they made moonshine to help put food in their boys’ mouths and clothes on their backs.
In Full Swing
Amanda made the shine in a shed out back. She used ingredients they had available around the farm and distilled only the best of the batch.
News spread quickly of the fine Hansen hooch.
So Carl made it available at socials and dances, keeping Amanda safely at bay from any potential danger. He would stash the shine and give close friends the location once the coast was clear.
End of the Line
The little enterprise got them through the dust bowl summers and cold, dark winters of those Dirty Thirties. But only one thing could get Canada and the world out of the Depression itself. That was the Second World War.
As terrible as that next chapter in history was, it allowed the Hansen Clan to finally fulfill the dream that brought their families to North America in the first place—it meant they could farm full time again. Their big moonshining days were over.
Of course, they didn’t pack up the still entirely.
That would have been a terrible waste and when you’ve lived through what the Hansen Clan endured in those hard years, nothing ever went to waste.
The Next Generation
Grandma Laura (or Grandma Jingle Bells as many affectionately call her), saved her sacred Sugar Shine recipe to pass down to the next generation. She clung onto that recipe until someone worthy of sharing it with joined the Hansen family. When Shayna Hansen met her now husband and master distiller, Kris Sustrik, Grandma was ready to reveal the secret.
Kris started to learn the family tradition with Grandma. At first it was a hobby, then it became a passion, and now it’s something that we can share with the rest of the world.
Over the decades, we have welcomed many new members to the Hansen family. We have also sadly lost many along the journey; some gone far too soon.
Don Hansen, a big fan of motorcycles and moonshine, loved his family and was so important to the legacy of the Hansen Family Tradition carrying on.
Before we suddenly and unexpectedly lost Don on July 28, 2018, you could find him enjoying the open road, spending time with his grandchildren, or telling everyone he knew all about the new family business – a distillery in Edmonton started by his daughter and son-in-law that carried his name. He was so proud of the family and the tradition being carried on. He would also be so happy to see so many bottles of Hansen spirit being enjoyed by people across Alberta, the province he was so proud of.
And now, Don is with us and watching more people celebrate and share the Family Tradition across Canada, and beyond.
The Fifth Generation
Shayna and Kris welcomed their first son in 2019, and if he chooses to learn the Family Tradition and family business, he will be the fifth generation to carry on the legacy. Brock’s two barrels of whisky are currently aging in the distillery awaiting the day he turns 18-years-old until we can open them. The real question is – will he share them with the rest of the family?!?!?
In 2021, Miss Waylon joined the family and her pink malted whisky barrels are resting filled with our first-ever malt whisky, awaiting 18 years of aging before being bottled. Grandma Jingle Bells loves doting on Waylon and they have already formed a very special bond. Maybe Grandma will share even more trade secrets with her that we can share with all of you.