A Guide to Southern Ontario Distilleries
Foraged botanicals and locally sourced fruit and herb never tasted so good. Discover progressive, cocktail-friendly and 100% Ontario inspired flavours at these local craft distilleries that are raising the bar in the art of mixology.
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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. With the use of limestone treated water from the local Amherstburg quarry and a reputation of pushing the boundaries of Canadian spirits, Wolfhead is known to create unique blends. 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.
Pack a picnic and head to Dillon’s distillery garden for a fresh tasting experience. Dillon’s produces small batch, 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.
Best known for its Unfiltered Gin 22, Dillon’s also produces vodka, absinthe and schnapps. The distillery is approximately half an hour drive west of Hamilton on the edge of Lake Ontario.
Location: 4833 Tufford Road, Beamsville
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.
The facility is an experience too, with hockey memorabilia paying homage to the Canadian icon and an ice rink onsite.
If you’re more about the whisky than the distillery tour, Forty Creek is your go-to. This lakeside distillery outside of Hamilton serves their own whisky in delicious cocktails. On Whisky Weekend once a year, you can tour the facility and learn more about this iconic Canadian company that has crafted award-winning whisky year after year.
Location: 297 S Service Road, Grimsby
Junction 56 Distillery is as local as it gets. All of their spirits start with 100% Ontario grown grains brought together with ingredients from local businesses to create their handcrafted flavoured liqueurs. Private, guided tours and tastings available, just call to arrange in advance.
Location: 45 Cambria Street, Stratford
The fresh taste and flavourful combinations of Dixon’s gin, vodka, moonshine and rye are sure to liven up any atmosphere. Sample Ginfusion, a gin cooler mixed with ginger, cucumber, lime and mint. Dixon’s offers hour-long tasting events as well as hosting as a venue for your special occasions.
Location: 355 Elmira Road North Unit 106, Guelph
Located on a picturesque farm estate in the scenic countryside of Ayr, Willibald Farm Distillery & Brewery creates delicious gin and vodka, in addition to brewing tons of unique beers. Stop by to enjoy the landscape from the comfort of the Biergarten, open every weekend. With a menu of tasty food and complex cocktails, Willibald has it all.
Location: 1271 Reidsville Road, Ayr
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. Spirit of York blends history and tradition with contemporary innovation. The name hearkens back to a time when Toronto was called ‘York’ and the city was renowned for its great distilleries. Located in the heart of Toronto’s Distillery District, Spirit of York has revived the old malting room from the Gooderham and Worts Distillery and given it a contemporary twist. Today, you can watch the distilling process through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall on one of their tasting and tour offerings.
Location: 12 Trinity Street, Toronto
Discover Toronto’s first small-batch micro distillery, including its yummy rum made from Ontario apples and gin infused with local elderflowers and juniper.
Location: 831 Simcoe Rd, Bradford, ON L3Z 2A6
Last Straw Distillery is small and intimate, but the product selection is mighty, from Gin Twenty One, a smooth tasting blend with subtle notes of citrus to award-winning whisky and rum. Everything is hands-on in the distillery, including the Distilling Workshops. This is next level touring, be part of the distilling process, with the option of pre-ordering their ‘product’ when it’s ready to go. Just be sure to book the workshop in advance.
Location: 40 Pippin Road #9, Concord
This Grey County cider house and distillery not only has fresh ciders and delicious gin made from their own organic apple farms but also a swanky tasting bar and slick spy-themed branding.
Location: 808108, Side Road 24, Clarksburg
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.
Location: 99 Hunter Street East, Peterborough
It 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. Visit for a three spirit tasting along with a sample cocktail on the patio, surrounded by pastoral scenery and resident free range chickens. Pick up a bottle of Juniper’s Wit Old Tom Gin or Kinsip Whisky Barrel Aged Maple Syrup.
Location: 66 Gilead Road, Bloomfield
Located in Lanark County, Top Shelf Distillers have built a legacy on their spirits and liqueurs. The selection of moonshine is made from locally sourced ingredients and features a wide range of unique flavours to suit any special occasion – some of which feel particularly Canadian.
Location: 14 Warren Crescent, Perth
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!
Location: 34 Industrial Drive, Almonte
Just outside Kingston in Johnstown, the King’s Lock is an organic distillery that crafts spirits fit for royalty. From vodka to gin to ryes, there’s plenty to taste on a tour – but be sure to try the 1000 Islands Moonshine, known for its sweet taste that requires no mixer.
Location: 5 Newport Drive UNIT #1, Johnstown
Ottawa’s first micro distillery produces five types of Canadian whisky, plus vodka, gin and rum using local ingredients and aged barrels. 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. Tours and tastings are available.
Location: 733 St. Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa
Last updated: December 13, 2021