Ontario Craft Distillers

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Discover the Local Talent

Ontario’s small-batch distillers are known for creating incredible spirits with amazing quality and distinctive flavours. Meet four producers handcrafting spirits that are definitely worth exploring. 

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Dixon's Artisanal Spirits

The first craft distillery in Guelph, Ont., Dixon’s Distilled Spirits was conceived over a casual dinner in Guelph, Ont. Its founders, husband and wife team, J.D. and Vicky Dixon, were passionate about fine spirits and inspired to take quality local products, including Ontario corn, and handcraft them into artisanal small-batch spirits. “The raw material was in our backyard, so we set out to create 100 percent Made in Canada spirits that are literally forged from the land,” says J.D.

Dixon’s small-batch spirits start with pure local water, and fermented corn and rye from Ontario mills. “We distill our spirits 18 times -- compared to the industry average of three to five -- then carbon-filter which removes any harsh tones but leaves a little of the sweetness behind,” says J.D.  “For us, hand-crafted is more than a marketing slogan. We literally make these spirits by hand, from grain to glass.” That craftsmanship is capturing attention: Dixon’s received LCBO’s Elsie Award for Best of Ontario Spirits and the distillery’s Wicked Blueberry Gin, Wicked Raspberry Gin and Silvercreek Vodka were all winners at the SIP international spirits competition in 2022.

Kinsip House of Fine Spirits:
County Bounty

Located in an impossibly charming mansion on a farm in Bloomfield, a small town in Prince Edward County, Kinsip House of Fine Spirits has quickly become an icon of the craft distilling scene.

There are a lot of things that set Kinsip apart from other distilleries, starting with the fact that this family-run operation is also a working farm, replete with chickens wandering around the grounds, right outside the tasting room. When Michael Waterston and his partner Maria Hristova bought the 80-acre property in 2016, it was with a view to make “estate-grown” spirits and, six years later, nearly everything they make is fermented and distilled with their own grain.

“It was originally a barley farm and the property is such a part of our identity that it’s great to be able to use it to reinforce the local and distinctive nature of our spirits,” says Waterston. “It gives us more control over more of the process which we think comes through in the bottle.”

There are a few things they can’t do on their own, such as the syrup for Kinsip’s wildly popular Maple Whisky, a delicious spirit aged in barrels formerly used for ageing maple syrup, but, they always source from other local producers. “We focus very much on having the character of the grains grown on our farm come through in our spirits,” says Waterston, “and we are often inspired by local flavours, such as the sumac used for our Juniper’s Wit Gin and the local blackcurrants in our cassis, which are just a couple of examples. We talk about being both from the county and of the county.” 

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