Published Date

TORONTO, Oct. 9, 2019 /CNW/ - With a new generation of savvier Canadian consumers, the bar and foodservice industry are taking note of the growing trend to opt for quality over quantity. Currently, the leading disruptor in the spirits space is American whiskey.


Younger consumers have shifted away from purchasing based on volume/price point and are buying with more sophisticated palettes. Recent sales and import statistics are showing a heavy lean towards bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and the rapidly rising newcomer, the American single malt.

In 2018 alone, according to USITC Trade Dataweb, Canada brought in $50M USD worth of American whiskey imports, making it the 7th highest export market. Canada was also the #1 export market for U.S. spirits overall ($234M) in the same year, a 16.6% increase from 2017 ($200M). 

Jonathan Neill, head bartender at Ritz Bar, The Ritz-Carlton (Toronto), explains the rising trend. "Cocktail and spirit trends have changed significantly during my time in the hospitality industry. American whiskey has surpassed Scotch in popularity at my bar. Despite emerging competition from other slow-sipper spirits, demand for bourbon and American whiskeys has not slowed down and continues to grow."

American single malt whiskey is embraced by connoisseurs for its elevated and distinct taste. The process involves 100% malted barley (with diverse types grown across the U.S.) distilled in a wide varietal of oak barrels.

With the heightened willingness to pay a higher price point for well-crafted products, the dramatic shift to American whiskeys shows consumers favour mixing sophisticated cocktails with flavours that complement the base spirit, not cover them up.

"Given the versatility of American spirits and the rise in popularity of cocktail bars both locally and globally, there's greater demand for unique and high calibre creations beyond the classics. With more selection and accessibility to American whiskey, Canadians are more willing to try new things in cocktail recipes," says Neill.

Notably, Toronto's own home city-loving performer and Raptors ambassador Aubrey "Drake" Graham launched his own American whiskey brand, Virginia Black, which broke first-day sales records in Ontario at 1,779 bottles.

Published Date

Vancouver, B.C. (October 8, 2019): 'Tis the season for tipples! Warm up this winter with Ampersand Distilling Co.'s Nocino!, a limited-edition liqueur that will effortlessly spice up your holiday soirée. In addition to bringing back the popular product for a third season of merrymaking, the Cowichan Valley distillery is closing out the year with two awards earned at SIP Northwest's 2019 Best of the Northwest Competition, a toast to five successful years of business.


Every bar cart needs Nocino!, Ampersand's silky spirit crafted with green walnuts harvested in summer, sweetened with local honey, and infused with cinnamon and allspice. Beloved by consumers and industry alike, the celebrated sipper won a gold medal at the 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition, and was the only product to receive a double gold award in the non-fruit liqueur category at SIP Northwest's 2019 Best of the Northwest Competition. Snag your own bottle of Nocino! (or gift it to a friend!) at select locations starting November 16, 2019, including:

  • Legacy Liquor Store (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • Vessel (Victora, B.C.)
  • Cascadia Liquor (Victoria / Courtenay, B.C.)
  • Beverly Corners (Duncan, B.C.)

Spirit lovers can also find Nocino! at this year's Fall for Local Holiday Market on November 16-17 at the Pipe Shop in North Vancouver, as well as at the Duncan's Farmers' Market. 

Eager for inspiration? Captivate the crowd at your next gathering with this simple and festive recipe:

To round out your liquor cabinet this season, make sure to pick up Ampersand's other signature sips - some of which also earned kudos at SIP Northwest's 2019 Best of the Northwest. In addition to Nocino!'s double gold win, the Ampersand team scooped up the only silver medal awarded in the vodka category for Per Se Vodka, a simple yet elegant blend of 100% B.C.-grown wheat and spring water sourced from Ampersand's five-acre farm. The annual competition - which received a record number of submissions this year - shines a spotlight on the best wine, beer, spirits and cider in the Northwest; all winners are featured in SIP Northwest's November issue. To taste what all the buzz is about for yourself, pick up a bottle of Per Se Vodka at select private liquor stores across B.C. (don't forget to try the distillery's flagship Ampersand Gin, too!) Locate the spirit nearest you using the handy map featured on Ampersand's website here

Ampersand has been raising toasts all year long, most recently in September to celebrate a milestone five years of business. To commemorate the occasion, the family-owned, small-batch distillery unveiled two new products slated for development in 2020: an exquisite herb-infused Amaro, and a sweet vermouth crafted in partnership with Rathjen Cellars. More details on these must-have spirits are coming soon, but in the meantime you can sample the distillery's current product lineup by visiting the tasting room (by appointment); visiting the Duncan Farmer's market (every Saturday); or browsing

Published Date

TORONTO, Oct. 4, 2019 /CNW/ - Duke's Refresher has officially opened its doors in St. Lawrence Market at 73 Front Street East. The new Duke's Refresher offers guests a roster of dining, drinking and playing options including new and retro arcade games, a mini basketball court, hand-stretched pizzas, 38 beers on tap – and that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface!


"This new location was heavily inspired by the more laid-back nature of the 70s and pays tribute to simpler times," said Peter Fowler, CEO, SIR Corp. "From the eclectic mix of vintage décor and retro inspired rooms, to classic arcade games, Duke's offers a lot of nostalgic elements to remind guests to not take themselves – and life - too seriously."

The new Duke's Refresher in St. Lawrence Market features delicious new food and drink offerings, with the added element of play and paint.

  • Play: Grab your coins and get after it, Duke's has over 15 arcade classics including Taxi Pinball, Galaxian, Area 51, Buck Hunter, and more! And if shooting hoops is more your style, check out the two-player mini basketball court, along with Shuffleboard, Pool and Ping Pong tables.
  • Paint: Drinks and painting more your thing? Come check out Duke's impressive gallery of velvet paintings - you can even take one home for the right price! Also keep an eye out for Duke's inaugural painting party happening this fall.
  • Drink: Duke's offers 38 beers on tap, $4 shots, 19 craft cocktails and more tallboys than you can shake a stick at.
  • Eat: Pizza and gaming. Say no more. Check out Duke's hand-stretched, thin and crispy, made-to-order pizzas, available exclusively at St. Lawrence Market.

"We're ecstatic about opening a second location in downtown Toronto and are excited to be a part of the St. Lawrence Market community that attracts both local residents and visitors," continued Fowler. "Duke's unique retro inspired vibe and entertainment provides the perfect escape for guests in the area to kick back and let loose."

For more information about Duke Refresher St. Lawrence Market, visit or follow on Instagram at @dukesrefresherslm.

Published Date

TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2019 /CNW/ - Spirits Canada today welcomed new analysis by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), which demonstrates the value of Ontario's distilled spirits manufacturing and the serious consequences of artificially limiting the industry's growth potential. 


Spirits Canada President and CEO Jan Westcott, reacting to the report, commented: "Ontario promised real choice and convenience in alcohol shopping options for Ontarian adults.  Now, the government must ensure distilled spirits made here at home are given at least equal treatment as provided for imported beer and wine.

"Failing to do so," Westcott continued, "would decrease Ontario farm purchases, put jobs here at risk, and rob the provincial treasury of more than half a billion dollars in tax revenue over ten years." 

Ontario need not look far for real-world evidence of these opportunities and risks.  When British Columbia included spirits in its private liquor sales expansion, the province reaped the benefits - doubling provincial revenue and enhancing consumer satisfaction.

On the other hand, when Quebec excluded spirits from grocery and corner stores, spirits lost 65% of its market share, shuttered facilities, and shed jobs. 

CANCEA's data-driven analysis shows Ontario can expect to see the same bleak outlook as Québec, unless it delivers on Premier Ford's promise to respect adults' independence to choose what they drink and where they shop.


CANCEA quick facts:

  • For every job lost in direct spirits employment, Ontario would lose nearly five additional jobs. 
  • The closure of a single mid-size manufacturing facility would cost Ontario more than 700 jobs (7,130 job-years over ten years).
  • Growing the spirits industry would create jobs and generate wealth for Ontario.
  • Expansion of a manufacturing facility that created 150 new direct jobs, would add 800 new jobs overall. Increasing exports by 25% would add $102 million to Ontario's gross provincial product annually.

For full CANCEA report, see:


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