B R E W E RY P R O F I L E
Sleeman gets into spirit business with Spring Mill Distillery
It turns out that beer was not the only thing the Sleeman family was brewing
back in the 1800s. In 1836, they created a distillery that quietly closed its doors
shortly after opening.
In May 2019, the modern Sleemans resurrected the family distillery business by
opening a new one in a historic building that was once used as a distillery along
the shores of the Speed River in Guelph.
“It has been a passion of mine to open a distillery. My great-great-grandfather
called his the Spring Mill Distillery and we are re-opening it 183 years after it
closed,” said John Sleeman, founder and chairman of Sleeman Breweries.
With an aim to make world-class whiskies, Sleeman commissioned Scottish
company Forsyths to craft copper pot stills in which to make authentic Scottishstyle
malt whisky. They can also make gin, vodka, bourbon, Canadian rye and
an Irish-blend whiskey.
“We’re currently making and laying down in wood four different kinds of whisky,
gin and vodka on sale in Canada,” said Sleeman.
The goal is to maintain a family business. With a former master brewer from
Sleeman (who also has a Scottish distiller licence) and his two sons in the mix, it
looks like it will stay that way.
“My youngest son Quinn is apprenticing as a cooper. He just got back from
Scotland and is one of the few Canadian coopers to make oak to lay down
whisky for us.”
Sleeman plans to emulate the brewery business plan with the distillery. They’re
looking for unique distilleries across the country with whom to partner.
“Our criteria is exactly the same as when we look at breweries: high-quality,
unique products that would be hard for us to make, and strong ethics with
respect to how they treat employees and customers.”
Photos: Spring Mill Distillery
8 § POURED CANADA § www.poured.ca