Ontario distillers are definitely trendsetters when it comes to crafting spirits infused with native ingredients. Foraged botanicals and locally sourced fruit and herb never tasted so good!. Discover progressive, cocktail-friendly, and 100% Ontario inspired flavours at these 15 distilleries that are raising the bar in the art of mixology.
Black’s Distillery, Peterborough
Locally owned, small batch, handcrafted spirits made from organic Red Fife Wheat; a strain invented by Peterborough County resident, David Fife in 1842. That’s local.
Dairy Distillery, Almonte
Employing artisanal distilling techniques with cutting-edge science to transform unused milk sugar (excess lactose, minerals and vitamins left over in the processing of milk & butter) into a smooth and clean spirit. The outcome is a good news story; a great opportunity for Ontario dairy farmers, one more way to reduce waste, and the crafting of a new spirit: Vodkow!
Crosscut Distillery, Sudbury
Sudbury’s first distillery produces small batch whisky, gin and vodka, including their signature bacon-flavoured vodka. Bacon + vodka! Proving once again that everything’s better with bacon.
Copperhead Distillery and Spirits Ltd, Sundridge
There’s a moonshine-era-esque vibe to this new establishment that feels like it’s been around for ages. Whisky, rum, vodka and gin are all crafted from local, organic fruits and grains, as well as Irish Cream, Chocolate Almond Cream and Apple Pie Moonshine – sold in mason jars. You’re welcome to sample them warmed at the bar.
Wolfhead Distillery, Amherstburg
During the prohibition years in the US, rum-running was a lucrative activity in southwest Ontario and Windsor became the birthplace of quality Canadian whisky. You needn’t be so cloak and dagger today to get your hands on premium craft whisky and vodka. Wolfhead’s award-winning flavours include apple caramel whisky, coffee liqueur whisky, banana caramel vodka and grapefruit vodka.
Note: Wolfhead is also a stop on the Windsor Essex Barrels, Bottles & Brews tour.
Muskoka Brewery, Bracebridge
This landmark, cottage-country brewery now produces small batch traditional, dry gin distilled with wild junipers, orris root, orange peel, fresh heather, and an infusion of Sorachi Ace hops for the citrus aroma. Say hello to the Gin & Tonic Docker, made the brewer’s own Legendary Oddity Gin and a twist of citrus and cucumber. Lakeside sundowners just got more exciting.
Junction 56 Distillery, Stratford
Gin, vodka, moonshine and introducing fireshine – moonshine steeped with hot, cinnamon spiced tea from local tea sommelier at Stratford Tea Leaves. Private, guided tours and tastings available, just call to arrange in advance.
Spirit of York Distillery, Toronto
Ardent spirit aficionados will love this place. With a tasting lounge, a rustic bitters library, a botanicals wall and a ‘spirits hub’ for mixology brainstorming, what’s not to love? Oh, also, premium quality rye and gin.
Last Straw Distillery, Vaughan
Take touring to the next level. Sign up for a distilling workshop and learn first-hand how spirits are crafted. You’ll leave with a bottle of your favourite flavour (Blackstrap rum, Dark Side Of The Moonshine or Gin Twenty-One perhaps) and insane bragging rights.
Kinsip House of Fine Spirits, Bloomfield
It’s doesn’t get more ‘Ontario’ than maple whisky, finished in barrels used for ageing maple syrup. This farm-based, grain-to-glass distillery is located in the heart of Prince Edward County and is a must-visit for all cocktail connoisseurs.
A small batch distiller, Dillon’s is producing grape-based white rye, vodka, gin and bitters that are making quite a large splash. In true locavore fashion, ingredients include fresh fruit, herbs and grain from surrounding wine country, as well as home-grown botanicals.
Grand Spirits Distillery, Grand Valley
With another nod to Ontario’s bootlegging past, savour superior vintage cocktails with vodka, gin and single malt crafted from local barley, berries, water and renewable energy. The facility is located in a restored heritage schoolhouse dating back to 1892 that also serves as a restaurant and entertainment salon.
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery, Niagara-on-the-Lake
When you’re nicknamed ‘the Great One’, there’s no question your whisky will be a game changer. Standing out from the wine crowd is Gretzky No 99 ‘Red Cask’ Canadian Whisky, crafted from local grain and finished in red wine casks.
North of 7 Distillery, Ottawa
Ottawa’s first micro distillery produces five types of Canadian whisky, plus vodka, gin and rum. Fun fact: drinking their Leatherback Rum will save endangered animals. For each bottle sold, a portion is donated to sea turtle conservation via the Sea Turtle Network charitable organization.
Yongehurst Distillery, Toronto
Discover Toronto’s first small-batch micro distillery, and its rum made from Ontario apples and gin infused with local elderflowers and juniper.
Learn more about Ontario’s craft beverages and the producers behind them. Please enjoy responsibly and don’t forget to thank your designated driver!
Main photo location: Dillon’s, Beamsville