Thursday, 16 April 2015


Out in Prince Edward County, there is an abundance of beautiful stuff. It’s a place of fresh air, beaches, and expansive wineries. Anyone who has been there can tell you that there’s no shortage of pastoral scenes to gaze at while wishing you could paint. For those of you with little to no romantic sensibility, Price Edward County has something else to offer, which anyone should be able to admire. Right in the middle of it all, in Bloomfield, ON, sits 66 Gilead Distillery

It seems somehow appropriate that the distillery is named for its address on Gilead Road. 66 Gilead was built in 1874. Owners and operators Sophia Pantazi and Perter Strozlt showcase their impressive array of spirits inside a historic house that’s almost as old as our country. You know what was happening in 1874? New York City annexed the Bronx. The Dakota gold rush began. Jeans cost $1.12. And if that fact alone is not reason enough to get you to go check it out, the quality of their products should convince you to grab a buddy and hit the road.

Right now, in their temperature-controlled, custom-made copper stills, some of Ontario’s finest whisky, rum, gin and vodka is being made. These aren’t your commercial, mass-produced whiskies and gins; they are complex, various, and full of character. Every batch is truly small-batch, every bottle contains the results of a carefully crafted recipe. 

Many of the ingredients that 66 Gilead uses are grown on their own property, including the juniper berries and the lavender for their LCBO-carried Loyalist Gin. Their commitment to keeping it local is made all the more apparent when you consider that even the barrels they age their dark spirits in are sourced from a neighbouring, honest-to-goodness Cooper, The Carriage House Cooperage.  It’s dedication like this that allows 66 Gilead Distillery to distinguish itself in a market that is saturated with uninspired spirits from companies so massive they have gravitational pull.

Speaking of local values, Peter and Sophia are as hospitable as can be. Seriously, they want you to come over. Take a tour and learn about the distillation process, and then expand your horizons in their tasting room. There, you can sample an impressive range of spirituous drinks, including their Crimson Rye Whisky, Duck Island Rum, and Canadian Pine Vodka. A must-do is the oak barrel-aged Black Dragon Shōchū, a traditional Japanese liquor made from barley, rice, and sesame.

This distillery, along with the other members of the OCDA, faces tremendous challenges in trying to promote their products. They deal with huge competition, legal impediments, and restrictions on where they can sell. They believe that craft distilling has inherent value, and are proving it, bottle after bottle. But it goes beyond craft, beyond locale, beyond batch size. These are people with Ontario-based business and production at heart, and they express this conviction by putting it into practice, crafting and offering the goods they are passionate about (though it’s practically a service, so direly are we in need of new cocktail options).

Only now is the local craft distillery movement beginning to find its footing in the mindset of the discerning spirit-drinkers of this province. Make room in your head and in your liquor cabinet for 66 Gilead Distillery.  Visit WEBSITE. 

Note: Article written by Dylan Nassr.
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The Ontario Craft Distillers Association (OCDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the success of Craft Distilleries in the Province of Ontario, Canada.  For more information on the OCDA or our constituents please contact us directly. You can also get social with OCDA on Facebook and Twitter