Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dillon's Distillery: Beamsville, Ontario

Since they opened (and according to their t-shirts they have been ‘legit’ since 2012), I have been itching to get out to Dillon’s Distillery. Located just off the QEW in Beamsville, ON, Dillon’s is the Niagara Region’s only craft distiller and they are doing some incredibly unique spirits, liqueurs and bitters. I first had their unfiltered small batch gin a few months ago and have not been able to get enough (which, may or may not be a good thing…) 

Dillon’s has been winning awards such as the Platinum Medal at The SIP Awards – International Spirits Competition in Las Vegas and their goods are popping up all over Ontario. They are now in several LCBOs and I was very excited when I tasted drank gulped saw their gin most recently at the Queen and Beaver in Toronto. 

We recently popped in on our way back from visiting my family in Niagara and immediately liked the location, the décor and atmosphere. Using lots of old wood, white paint and vintage glass-wear, their store front offers a modern, yet rustic vibe. They use the space wisely - featuring both their drinkable and edible goods. 

We decided to enjoy a tasting in which we sampled several spirits as well as bitters. For those of you who have never been to a spirits tasting (including both of us prior to this trip) it is very different than a wine or beer tasting, as you can probably imagine. Instead of half glasses and/or flights, Dillon’s uses cute little shot glasses in which they add just tiny dribbles of their booze. It is just enough to get the taste and aroma without leaving inebriated. 

We started out with a taste of their award-winning vodka. Being a vodka-water kinda gal, I really liked the refreshing and unique taste of this particular version and the fact that it is made with local Niagara wine grapes. This was followed by their rye which was also very enjoyable. 
After that we tasted their pear eau-de-vie, something which I had never tried before. For those of you who don’t know (and I only know now because I asked) eau-de-vie is a clear-colourless fruit-based liquor and this one was made with local Bartlett pears. A light and fresh drink that would certainly play well with others. 

We skipped the unfiltered gin since we had already had it, but for those of you who have never tried it, I highly recommend it. It is a very floral and almost citrus-y gin, using local Niagara grapes and botanicals. If you’re not a gin drinker, this is the one to start with (assuming you want to be a gin drinker?)

Lastly we tried their rose gin (of which they describe as Canada’s answer to sloe gin), and it is a London-style gin infused with rose hips and rose petals. It has a nice sweetness to it without being overly sugary and without detracting from the wonderful flavors of the grapes and botanicals. We decided to take a bottle home for further assessment...

The staff member providing us with the tasting also gave us incredible ideas for cocktails and even for baking and making jams! After going through the tasting as well as smelling their beautiful bitters, we settled on 2 bitters – the pear bitters and the orange bitters.

Overall, Dillon’s is a great little stop along the way to and from Niagara and I would definitely recommend stopping by for a taste as well as to replenish your bar with delicious, unique, craft spirits that are sure to keep your bar stocked for a week the summer!