For the first time in decades, downtown Montreal is producing whisky.
Sazerac Company’s Old Montreal Distillery is behind this distinction. For more than a year, Sazerac has added in elements for whisky production, installing grain mills and a 4,000-gallon mash cooker, converting existing equipment and hooking up fermenters. A key piece, a new still, was recently installed at the distillery. The still is 18 inches in diameter and 37 feet tall and was made at Vendome in Louisville, Ky.
The Old Montreal Distillery has long had capacity to distill spirits, including Genever gin, and Sazerac had always wanted to bring back whisky distillation to Montreal. “With the long standing connection this city has had with distilling premium Canadian whisky, through the headquarters of the legendary Seagram Company and its patriarch Sam Bronfman, it was always a goal of ours to bring whisky distilling back to Montreal,” says Mark Brown, Sazerac president and chief executive officer.
The Old Montreal Distillery will experiment with new whiskies. “With over 500,000 Canadian whisky barrels in inventory, we’re anxious to get started experimenting here in Montreal similar to what we do at our other distilleries,” says Drew Mayville, Sazerac’s master blender.
Plans remain under wraps for now as to which Canadian whisky or whiskies will come out of the Old Montreal Distillery, and a formal christening of the still will take place later this year. Tours will likely become available as well.
The Old Montreal Distillery dates back to 1929. It currently employs more than 100 people. The addition of the new distilling operation adds a few more full-time employees. Caribou Crossing, a single-barrel Canadian whisky, is already bottled at the Old Montreal Distillery.
As part of this ramping up of brown spirits production, Sazerac last year began making Tennessee whiskey.