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The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries

The Portable Expert to Over 200 Distilleries and the Spirits they Make (From Absinthe to Whisky, and Everything in Between)

by (author) Davin de Kergommeaux & Blair Phillips

Random House Canada
Initial publish date
Mar 2020
Wine & Spirits, General, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price

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Shortlisted for the 2021 Gourmand Award for Best in the World - Drink Culture! 
From award-winning author of Canadian Whisky, Davin de Kergommeaux, comes a definitive guide to over 200 distilleries across Canada and the array of spirits they make.

The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries is an indispensable guide to the past, present and future of Canada's distilleries. Written by bona fide Canadian spirits expert Davin de Kergommeaux, this book covers more than 200 of the most exciting and cutting-edge distilleries, large and small, who are shaping the industry today.

     Just a decade ago, fewer than a dozen distilleries, concentrated in two provinces, produced almost all the spirits (mainly whisky) made in Canada. Today, there is a movement afoot in Canada's spirits world. There has never been a better selection of rich specialty spirits--from gin to moonshine, from flavoured vodka to liqueurs--to tempt the palate and supplement your long-time favourites. Despite flourishing public enthusiasm for Canada's distillers, other than incomplete and inaccurate web-based information, no one has offered consumers an all-inclusive guide... until now.

     Using a trademark (and witty) blend of narrative, tasting notes, inventive cocktail recipes and vibrant photos, de Kergommeaux shares the unique genesis of each of these distillers who are pushing the boundaries and flavours of spirits of all kinds. Divided geographically with suggested distillery routes, and filled with key tour information as well as breakout features of the most exciting people and spirits today, The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries is a treasured souvenir and fun companion to the distilleries in every corner of the country, and a must-have guide for curious drinkers and expert connoisseurs alike.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

DAVIN DE KERGOMMEAUX is a drinks writer, public speaker and spirits judge, recognized as the world expert on Canadian whisky. He has travelled to four continents to visit spirits producers and distilleries, and make presentations about Canadian spirits. In 2016 the Globe and Mail named him one of the 50 most influential Canadians in food and drink, then in 2018 the New York Times said his significance in the revival of Canadian whisky could not be overstated.

BLAIR PHILLIPS is a lifestyle and spirits writer specializing in Canada's growing landscape of spirits and distilleries. He is the Canadian contributing editor for Whisky Magazine and writes for the popular Distiller app. He also contributed features for during the TV Series' three season run. He judges several spirits competitions including the World Whisky Awards and Canadian Whisky Awards.

Excerpt: The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert to Over 200 Distilleries and the Spirits they Make (From Absinthe to Whisky, and Everything in Between) (by (author) Davin de Kergommeaux & Blair Phillips)

From the Introduction

There is a movement stirring in Canada’s spirits world. If you doubt us, just visit the farmers’ market in Duncan, BC. There, among the local vegetables, grass-fed meats, cheeses, handcrafted soaps, and wines, you will find the Schacht family, who operate Ampersand Distilling just up the road, selling products they make by hand: gin and vodka. Duncan is typical of the scores of communities across the land where a burgeoning interestin locally produced food and drink has grown to embracespirits. More than 200 distilleries have sprung up across Canada to meet this surging demand, most of them in the past five years alone. New distilleries are popping up so regularly that it is almost impossible to keep up.

These new enterprises are not small-scale knock-offs of the major distilleries that already provide more than 99% of the spirits that Canadians drink (and yes, that’s the real number). Small or large, each of Canada’s distilleries has its own distinct, often eccentric, personality. And for the most part, each one turns to local produce to make its fine spirits. While larger distilleries focus on high-volume, mass-market liquors, the smaller distillers specialize intiny batches of specialty spirits. Often, they sell these products in shops inside their distillery.

What these smaller start-ups may lack in volume, theymake up for in cachet. Many of them, for example, are raising terroir to an almost fetish-like obsession. It’s notan exaggeration to say that you really can taste Vancouver Island barley in Shelter Point’s whiskies, while Cirka’s gin telegraphs innovative flavours from Quebec’s boreal forest. As well, distillers are creating a new understanding of formerly traditional flavours for spirits. Still Waters Distillery and Dillon’s Distillers have each created their own versions of rye whiskies with surprising and appealing new flavours. Pemberton Distillery has been digging peat right on its own property to fuel the kiln that dries and flavours its malt. Distillerie Fils du Roy harvests New Brunswick thuja staves for its barrels, while a collective of Quebec distillers has created an official geographic designation known as acerum, for spirits they make from maple sap.


The idea for this book began to take shape while we were travelling across Canada, writing a travel and whisky adventure series. Entering crowded tasting rooms from Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley, Alberta, to Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby, Ontario, showed just how popular “drinking local” is becoming. As we have gotten to know some of these distilleries, we realized each has a unique product and a story that needs to be told, and thus this guide was born.

In all 10 provinces and one territory, you will meet the quirky personalities who create these spirits and who run the distilleries that make them. Some of the distilleries featured have been around for over a century; others are creating their spirits for the first time. Each plays its part in Canada’s spirits landscape. There has never been a better selection of rich specialty spirits to tempt the palate and add to your long-time favourites, and the tasting notes we have included will help guide you.

There is a lot to say about the over 200 profiles featured in this book. To make it as comprehensive as possible, you’ll find the technical details of each distillery—whether it is their street address, the kinds of stills they use, tour information, or a listing of where you can buy their products—in sidebars on every page. As well, we have included regional maps to plan your next distillery-crawl adventure and to track your progress. We have also mentioned each distillery’s nearest neighbours, in each direction, so no matter which way you are heading, you know where to stop next. Once you have taken that first sip, we are confident you will want to visit them all. And when you get home, new discoveries in hand, why not try some of our distillery-specific cocktail recipes—some classic, most unique.

This book is as up-to-date as we could make it. And like every book, it is up-to-date until the moment someone pushes the “Print” button. Given all of the exciting things we have seen in our research, we know there will be new additions by the time it reaches your hands. And this is why, for the latest updates, we invite you to visit us at

As you work your way through this book, you will—in words, at least, and we hope later in fact—taste all the spirits these distilleries create, and hundreds more. There is a whole new world of flavour in Canada’s distilleries, and we hope our book will help you be part of it.

Editorial Reviews

Advance Praise for The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries
“To call Davin de Kergommeaux the soul of Canadian whisky is an understatement—he is its guide, its historian, and its leading advocate. Canadian Whisky is a book every serious drinker already has on the shelf. Now comes The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries, with Blair Phillips, as astounding in its breadth of coverage as its depth of insight. Make room in your library, spirits fans: this is a must-own book.”
—Clay Risen, author of American Whiskey, Bourbon and Rye and Single Malt
The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries is a beautiful, thoroughly researched and thoughtfully presented homage to the hard working people who have brought the spirits movement to life. Find a comfortable chair, fill a glass with your favourite Canadian spirit, eat your poutine with a fork so you don’t mess up these nice pages, and take a cross-country trek through the pages of this book. If you’re not thirsty, you soon will be.”
—Zane Lamprey, host of Three Sheets, Drinking Made Easy, Chug, and Four Sheets
“Davin de Kergommeaux taught me just about everything I know about distilling across Canada, and anyone who doesn't immediately dive into his expert tome and devour every morsel of insight Davin and co-author Blair Phillips are offering must have something against drinking the good stuff—not to mention the very concept of learning.”
—Jeff Cioletti, editor of Craft Spirits
The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries accurately brings to life many of the colourful characters, places and bottles I’ve been lucky to encounter. Proving that knowing your Canadian small-batch spirits is no longer just an insider’s game, Davin de Kergommeaux and Blair Phillips have created a fun, easy-to-read and cocktail-friendly guide that everyone from mixologists to casual sippers need to put behind the bar.”
—Charlene Rooke, drinks journalist, educator and judge

"Whether you’re an armchair traveller or a serious spirits fan planning a trek across the country, you’ll find inspiration and learn a ton."

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