Toronto’s newest distillery – Spirit of York Distillery Co. – located in Toronto’s historic Distillery District, is producing small batch gin and vodka using locally sourced ingredients and first-rate distillation equipment in a stunning 7,2000 square-feet space.
Fun & Interactive
“We stand for three things,” says co-founder Gerry Guitor. “Quality, local, and celebrating the heritage of the Distillery and area.”
The intricate, meticulous process of distillation includes a lot of scientific info and technical terms that you may not be familiar with (heart, heads, mash). But you don’t need a lab coat to learn the ropes.
The coolest aspect of the distillery – aside from seeing the spirits made on-site – is that it was designed to help you learn the process from start to finish. The walkway along the outer edge takes you through each step of distilling – either in a self-guided tour, or one led by a staff member.
From experimenting at the rustic Bitters Library and smelling the 15 heady botanicals used, to seeing the production line of three stills and a variety of tanks (one Mash preparation vessel [MPV], four fermenters, two water storage tanks, three alcohol storage tanks and four mobile tanks) in action, there’s a lot to see and do. Watch a video about the flourmill in Norfolk County and get a close look at the different ryes used. The middle area and focal point of the “Spirits Hub” is a nine-point bar filled with greenery and the setting for “mixology innovation and education,” so check it out on your next visit.
The small-batch production distills just once, using Ontario-sourced raw ingredients, including water from Springwater (recognized as “the purest water in the world” by Canadian Geographic), 100 per cent Ontario grown rye, and curated strains of Distiller’s Yeast.
Each spirit boasts a “very unique base,” according to Guitor, and “captures the character of the rye.” Both are smooth, clean and slightly sweet.
Currently the distillery’s own Spirit of York’s premium gin and vodka is available for sampling at the bar, as well as for sale in 750 mL bottles for $49.95.
The proprietary infusion process includes 15 selected botanicals (juniper, cinnamon, coriander, Angelica root, and fennel seed, to name just a few), with floral notes evolving from nose to palate to finish. Experience bright citrus with spicy, savoury notes with this New-American-style gin.
Combining time-honoured tradition with state of the art distilling equipment, the process is still painstaking – only the “hearts” ** of the liquid, the purest portion of the distillation, are selected and aerated for a minimum of 21 days.
The rye notes intersperse with bright green apple, subtle floral and deeper nutty notes, spice and butter.
** “Hearts” of the spirit are the purest portion of the distillation stream. They contain the most character and flavour of the base grain. The hearts are what remain after we cut away the “heads” and “tails.” Using just the heart eliminates that ethanol burn that you’ve experienced with other spirits in the past, leaving only a smooth taste and finish.
Fixtures & Fittings
A team of experts transformed the heritage space, including support from different event suppliers, several designers (Sid Lee and + tongtong, for example) for various components, and the staff “bringing it together in one piece,” says Guitor.
It took 16 months for the stills to arrive and two forklifts to bring them in the back door.
With exposed brick walls and wood beams, eye-catching centrepiece bar and view of the beautiful distillation equipment behind glass, you get an old-world feel mixed with the new.
The space is also available for private events.
At the Still: Mark Harrop, Philip Miller, Matt Driscoll
At the Bar: Maryke Ballard, Simon Ho (Fat City Blues, The Drake), Kjell Pladsen, Kerry Koutsaris
Head Honchos: Co-founders Gerry Guitor and Brent Peters, alongside 33 additional shareholders
Map it: 12 Trinity St. (just on the right past the entrance to The Distillery District)
Visiting Hours: Every day from 11 am to 9 pm
Phone it in: 416-777-0001
How Cool is This?! In the works: Aquavit, Rum and more surprise spirits.
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