Bottoms up: Lanark County distillery revives century-old whisky tradition

Forget about craft breweries, come to Lanark County and discover the newest (and coolest!) alcohol trend – a small batch distillery producing spirits like vodka, flavourful gin, and coming soon, a golden, aromatic whisky! It’s #BottomsUp at Top Shelf Distillers in Perth, where their team is reviving a century old whisky tradition of producing the ‘water of life’ in the former whisky-town of heritage Perth.

Who doesn’t love a good whisky tale? It turns out Perth’s relationship with whisky is steeped in its local lore and most illustrious residents. In the early 1800s Perth boasted half a dozen distilleries, including the renowned malt whisky distilleries, Stewart & Spalding and McLaren Distillers, whose spirits were exported throughout North America before prohibition.

While it’s been more than 100 years since the distinct scent of fermenting grain mash drifted through the town of Perth, the local tradition of whisky production is still alive and well at Top Shelf Distillers. One of less than two dozen distilleries in Ontario, and one of only two in the Ottawa area, Top Shelf Distillers has launched itself into the distilling realm with both feet.

Small-batch gin, vodka, and moonshine (made from a secret family recipe) were first off the mark among Top Shelf’s product line-up, and soon whisky will join the list of available products. Top Shelf launched their vodka and gin upon opening in 2015, and while these bottles have been flying off the shelves of LCBOs across Ontario, barrels and barrels of whisky have been set aside to age – a three year wait!

Top Shelf’s product line-up includes unique combinations like their Apple Pie Moonshine, that tastes just as it sounds – like apple pie! Their Maple Moonshine is an unaged whisky product that’s a must-try for visitors, smooth and with a hint of delicious local sweetness.

If you missed the whisky party held in January 2017 to unveil ‘Rise & Shine,’ a one-year-old whisky teaser, relax! There’s more to come, with a spicy malted barley whisky and a Canadian-style whisky – a strong rye and malted barley blend – ready for distribution in February 2019. A single barrel of 100 per cent malt whisky is already pre-selling bottles, so order yours soon for a November 2019 distribution!

Maintaining the local whisky manufacturing tradition, Top Shelf has a uniquely local focus for sourcing their ingredients. All grain used by Top Shelf is grown in Ontario, and when it came time to source maple syrup for their Maple Moonshine, they didn’t need to look far to find Paul’s Maple Products, only minutes from the town of Perth, and right in the heart of Lanark County, the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario!

Drop by Top Shelf’s Perth location and have a dram – or two! – of their full product line-up. Make your visit a productive one and learn about distilling while you’re there. Top Shelf can accommodate tour buses of up to 50 people, and for $10 you can get a 20-to-30-minute tasting tour around the distillery, including two specialty cocktails and a sample of all the spirits. #BottumsUp!

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