An award-winning distillery in northeastern New Brunswick aims to offer the province's first single malt whisky by early next year.
Distillerie Fils du Roy in Petit-Paquetville also has an expansion planned this summer and hopes to market itself as a destination for tourists interested in learning more about spirits, such as gin, vodka and rum, said founder and master distiller Sébastien Roy.
"Every morning, I can't wait just to wake up to start to dream," he said. "I have many plans and those are the ones I have right now."
The company, founded in 2012, actually started limited production of whisky in 2015, "but at that time, it was very, very laborious work," with only two 500-litre capacity stills, said Roy.
Last year, the company purchased about $175,000 in equipment to help ramp up production, thanks in part to about $49,000 in funding announced Tuesday by the provincial government.
"Before, it was taking us six weeks to do one barrel. Now … every week we can have one barrel," said Roy.
But whisky in Canada has to be aged for three years, so he expects to launch a "historical edition" of the 2015 batch in New Brunswick in January. "It's less than 'limited' because there will be not a lot of it."
By 2019-20, Roy hopes to roll out across Canada with an anticipated retail price of about $65 per bottle, and by 2021-22, he wants to go international.
The interest is there, said Roy, based on export research trips he's made to France, South Korea and the UK. "The first thing they ask is for whisky; that's what people look for. That's what I call 'in' right now," he said.
"So I will be ready in the near future to go back [to the] countries I went before with bottles of whisky and be able to show what we can do in Canada."
Construction to start in June
In the meantime, Roy has a 4,000 square foot annex in the works to store the whisky barrels and to show tourists how whisky is produced. Construction is scheduled to begin in June be completed by August, he said.
The provincial government provided a total non-repayable investment of $49,113. Opportunities NB contributed $22,008, the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, $20,000, and the Regional Development Corporation, $7,105.
"This investment supports one of the growth opportunities identified in the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan, supporting the local food and beverage industry," Economic Development Minister Francine Landry, who is also minister responsible for Opportunities NB, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We are pleased to assist a successful company like Distillerie Fils du Roy with its growth plans. This investment not only helps the distillery achieve its goals, but it also supports capital investment in rural New Brunswick."