Copperhead distillery opens in Burke’s Falls
By Bill Tremblay
BURKE’S FALLS, Ont. — Copperhead Distillery has opened with a focus on highlighting the flavours of Northern Ontario.
Inspired by the bounty of local produce in their community, Sharon and Craig Ferchat opened the distillery near Burke’s Falls, Ont., in December.
“It was really interesting that there were a lot of nice small businesses up here and some very nice farms,” Craig Ferchat said. “They’re growing organic crops and are really dedicated to the quality of their produce, but they didn’t have a venue to sell some of these products.”
As the owners of a natural health care product business, the Ferchats began trying to incorporate local ingredients. However, they decided to create a new business better suited to the area.
RELATED: Distilling returns to Grand Valley
“We thought about how could we use them, how can we take advantage of this great local resource, and came up with a distillery,” Ferchat said.
As their first time trying their hand at distilling, the Ferchats took a trial and error approach to fusing local ingredients with numerous recipes for spirits.
“It was very much our own endeavour and trying to make product we like that we thought our neighbours would like as well,” he said.
This month, the LCBO will begin carrying four of the distillery’s products: Magnetawan Rye Moonshine, Almaguin Smokin’ Guns Moonshine, Pirate Coconut Rum and Black Currant Vodka.
“The rye is our best seller. It does have a pretty respectable flavour to it,” he said.
The LCBO-bound brands are four of 18 spirits produced at the distillery.
As well, cider and wine production will also join their beverage production in the future.
“The thinking was, if we only had one or two products, it would be a tough sell to convince someone to leave the highway and come in to where we’re located,” Ferchat said.
While the sugarcane used in rum production must be imported, Copperhead purchases organic grain, corn, herbs and fruits used in its spirit production from as close to home as possible.
“All of our other grains and products we try to get from within 100 miles,” Ferchat said.
Situated on a 55-acre farm on Horn Lake, the distillery also plans to grow many of its own ingredients. With a rye grain harvest under their belt, the Ferchats plan to tackle corn next.
“We’re a bit far north for that, but we’re going to try to grow as much as we can,” he said.
While the distillery is already home to a tasting room, they plan to build a larger facility that includes a restaurant and tour of the operation.
“It will become a real reason to come off the highway,” Ferchat said.