Women of Spirits: Mireille Morin of Rheault Distillery
A little over 10 years ago, Mireille Morin and her husband, Marcel Rheault, were inspired by the idea that the best way to promote and showcase the beauty of the northern harvest was to turn it into a world-class vodka. After searching the world for the best distillation methods, the couple converted part of their family home into a distillery where they produce spirits, including an award-winning vodka made with hardy northern wheat. Running Ontario’s northernmost distillery can be challenging, but it’s worth it to Morin, because it means she gets to shine a light on the unique flavours of the region through her spirits.
The headliner spirit at Rheault is Loon Vodka. It’s an “alpha vodka”— a subcategory of vodka that’s made ultra-pure with a special technique that only a handful of distilleries use. Since winning its category at the World Vodka Awards in 2017, Loon Vodka sometimes overshadows the distillery’s fruit liqueurs, such as Sinful Cherry, which, Morin says, tastes like cherry pie punch.
Loon Vodka is like nectar from the north. It’s a vodka made for sipping, but it’s very refreshing and, even when you taste it right off the still at 94 per cent, it maintains a bit of sweetness. It’s unbelievable.
Located in Hearst, Ont., Distillerie Rheault isn’t just Ontario’s northernmost distillery — it’s also the province’s only licensed one located in a residential home, with the state-of-the-art equipment set up just off the kitchen. Morin loves welcoming people into their house to see the operation and taste the spirits, although she says visitors are sometimes a little thrown off and start looking around for another entrance to the distillery building. That’s all part of the unique experience they offer, one they hope to replicate when they open a cider house in Thunder Bay to showcase the province’s northern apple orchards.
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