It’s not very difficult to find a pint of locally-brewed craft beer in the city with so many breweries popping up. Finding cider that’s been brewed close to the Toronto is also getting easier. Add to that boozy list local spirits, some of which is produced right here in the city while other distilleries can be found not far from it. Whether gin, vodka, whiskey, or rum, hand-crafted spirits are starting to gain momentum in the city and here are seven craft distilleries to check out in and around Toronto.
Toronto Distillery Company
This distillery in Toronto’s Junction neighborhood, which coincidently was once a dry neighborhood, distills their spirits from locally sourced grains and other produce and is a certified organic grain-to-glass distillery. The Distillery was founded in 2012 and was the first new distillery to be licensed in Toronto since 1933. Toronto Distillery Co. produces Organic Single Grain Whiskies, JR’s Dry Organic Canadian Gin (winner of the 2016 Toronto Ginapalooza), Organic Applejack and the beautifully earthy Organic Beet Spirit made from fermented sugar beets.
Harbour Rum, the signature offering from Toronto’s Yongehurst Distillery, is the first Toronto-produced small batch rum, or as the Distillery’s website suggests, the first rum distilled in the city “possibly ever”. This rum, sold in 375ml bottles, is made by fermenting South American certified organic molasses with a wild yeast strain from Ontario apples. Every product sold at Yongehurst is fermented, distilled and flavored right in the distillery so you know you’re getting strict attention to detail and quality control. In addition to Harbour Rum, you can find some limited batch spirits like Limoncello, various types of gin and spiced rum.
Last Straw Distillery
Just outside of Toronto in Vaughan is where you’ll find Last Straw Distillery. Recently opened in August of 2016, they produce several unique spirits including lightly aged moonshine, blackstrap molasses rum and gin with more to follow as they continue to get up and running.
Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers
Being located in the Beamsville puts Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers in the heart of Niagara wine country. They chose that particular location so they would be in close proximity the products they would need to create their spirits, including grapes, other fruits, and botanicals. The focus is on four signature spirits which include rye whiskey, white rye, vodka and several types of gin including dry gin, unfiltered gin, rose gin, cherry gin, and strawberry gin. In addition, Dillon’s also produces fruit spirits, various flavors of bitters and absinthe. Daily tours are available from Victoria Day weekend through to November 1 at both noon and 3 p.m. Tours are $5.
Make a trip to Stratford, Ontario to pay a visit to Junction 56 Distillery. Opened in 2015, the distillery produces gin, vodka and moonshine and they are currently putting whiskey in barrels to mature. Moonshine is available at select LCBO locations, while you can get gin and vodka via a trip to the distillery. If you feel like learning a bit more about the distilling process, you can book a tour of the facility where you’ll get a closer look at the distillery and all its moving parts. Tours are $10 and include samples.
Still Waters Distillery
Award-winning small batch whiskey is the name of the craft spirit game at Still Waters Distillery located in Concord, Ontario. Still Waters Distillery set up shop in 2009 as Ontario's first micro-distillery and they continue to gain accolades, awards, and fans thanks to the love and knowledge they put into their product. They mash, ferment and distill by hand to produce their much-loved whiskey and rye and products include single malt whiskey made from 100 percent Canadian two-row malted barley, rye whiskey and two blends (red blend and blue blend).
Sixty-Six Gilead Distillery
Several hand-crafted spirits are produced at this Prince Edward County distillery located on an 80-acre farm. All of Sixty-Six Gilead’s spirits are all produced on site in small batches, using a custom-made copper still. Here you’ll find three types of vodka (Canadian Rye, Whole Wheat, and Canadian Pine), two whiskeys (Crimson Rye and Wild Oak), Loyalist Gin, Duck Island Rum and Black Dragon Sochu. You can find Loyalist Gin at the LCBO but if you want to get your hands on anything else you’ll need to take a trip to the distillery’s retail store.