Ontario Spring Water Sake Company

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Two looks at the Canadian craft spirits “boomlet”

The Distillery District’s large-scale booze output may be a relic of the past, but across Canada, small-time craft distillers are intoxicating hooch lovers both locally and abroad. An article in the Globe and Mail today highlighted some of those distillers’ successes. Out east, Prince Edward Distillery gin earned 92 points (the same score as Bombay Sapphire) from Chicago’s Beverage Testing Institute, an independent lab that ranks alcoholic beverages. And the distillery’s potato-based vodka won gold at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, beating out top-name brands like Chopin, Skyy and Stolichnaya Red. Closer to home, Post City ran a story this week on Tequila Tromba, the new-ish tequila from Toronto’s Eric Brass, which is currently the only independent tequila available on the general list at the LCBO (it also makes for a great “La Hoja” cocktail). Tromba is spreading like wildfire, showing up at places like Brassaii, Boehmer, Cold Tea, The Drake, Pravda, The Thompson, Yours Truly and 416 Snack Bar. And of course there’s the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company down in the Distillery District, and the Concord-based Still Waters, which brews small batches of vodka. Still, despite what the Globe and Mail calls a “boomlet,” the craft-spirits renaissance is a tough racket. The domestic market is flooded by foreign-owned giants, and it can be tough to get listed by provincial liquor monopolies. Profit margins in the boutique booze business are small, and owners often have to keep other day jobs to stay afloat. [Globe and Mail] [Post City]

The Dish

Drinks

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Toronto to get its very own sake brewer in the Distillery District

(Image: Svadilfari)

When Ken Valvur first tried fresh, unpasteurized Japanese sake, it changed his life. “That’s how I fell in love with it,” he recalls. “When I tasted just-pressed sake, it was an amazing moment for me.” There are few sake breweries in North America (Canada has two on the west coast), so the alcoholic rice beverage is usually pasteurized for its transport over vast distances. Most Torontonians never get to enjoy sake the way it was meant to be. Valvur intends to change all that when he opens the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, the first sake brewery in eastern North America. The doors are scheduled to open this spring in the Distillery District.

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