gavin smith

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Kittling Ridge Distillery

by Gavin D Smith

Unlike its North American counterparts across the US border, Canadian whisky employs the Scotch spelling, and whisky is currently made in 13 distilleries throughout this vast country, with the bulk being produced by large-scale companies such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Beam Inc in relatively industrial-style distilleries, though the craft-distilling bug has started to bite in Canada, albeit to a modest extent.

distillery One such 'craft' producer is Kittling Ridge which was set up in 1992 by wine-maker John Hall in a former eau-de-vie distillery. Kittling Ridge Estate Wines & Spirits is located between the backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment and the southern shores of Lake Ontario, at the gateway to Niagara Wine Country.

The winery and distillery name is taken from the ridge that creates excellent growing conditions for vines in the area. Each spring, migrating hawks and eagles use the warm air currents that the ridge creates to gain altitude as they travel north. Their circling, as they ride the thermals, is traditionally known as 'kittling.'

john John Hall (left) decided to look to his wine-making background rather than to Canadian whisky-making tradition, installing a 500-litre copper still and distilling malted barley, corn and rye separately, instead of making up one 'mash bill' of different grains as is customary.

Each spirit type is then matured in casks considered appropriate to its style. Corn, for example, is aged in heavily-charred barrels, and in the spirit of innovation, John Hall has even produced his own sherry to fill into casks ultimately used to mature whisky. After maturation of between six and 10 years the various types of spirit are blended together and then spend some time 'marrying' in ex-sherry casks, before being bottled as Forty Creek whisky.

Kittling Ridge offers a number of Forty Creek expressions, including Barrel Select and Double Barrel Reserve, along with Mountain Rock and Canada Gold whiskies. The distillery also produces brandy, rum and liqueurs, not to mention, of course, a range of award-winning wines, including the highly-regarded Vidal Icewine.

40 Creek As both a winery and distillery, Kittling Ridge offers visitors something very different in 'wine country.' From the fruit processing area and fermentation cellars, to the copper pot and column stills, and the oak barrel ageing cellars, Kittling Ridge is unique among drink-related attractions. Visitors are welcome at Kittling Ridge during the summer months, to see in person both wine and spirit-making, and to sample and purchase a wide range of products.

Kittling Ridge Distillery
297 South Service Road
L3M 1Y6

Forty Creek Premium Barrel Select
The nose of this 40% ABV whisky is rich, spicy and floral, with walnuts, vanilla and raisins. Smooth on the palate, with more spice, milk chocolate and blackcurrants. Spice persists into the finish, along with soft oak.


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