Although the Cirka distillery was only created in 2014, as you enter, you immediately immerse yourself in the warm universe of red brick buildings from the industrial era, providing an historical effect … in fact, it is located in an industrial sector of Montreal where the first distilleries of the metropolis originated.
Above all, this was indeed a dream come true for Paul Cirka, who envisioned bringing the production of whiskey to Montreal. Together, with his two business partners, they created the distillery that bears his name.
The main work area has been set up to enhance the stills as a form of respect for people towards their craft. More so, as in many distilleries, they were assigned a specific name chosen respectively by the three owners:
Benjamin (50 liters) is the smaller one used mainly for experiments. It was named after JoAnne Gaudreau’s grandfather.
Homer (600 liters) is more imposing, a bit stocky and is used to produce the gin. It was named after Paul Cirka’s father.
Mario (2400 liters) delivers an infinite impression with its main column standing at 7.3 meters (24 ’) in height. This is used for the distillation of whiskeys and the second shorter comes to support its vodka production. It was named after John Frare’s father.
Absolutely amazing and definitely worth a visit. It is truly a distillery that pleases the eye and engages all of one’s senses. Please verify their website for additional details. Visiting the distillery will allow for an interesting experience as you gather lots of information and only have a chance to sample the available products.
As mentioned, whiskey was the original goal. However, as you probably know, in Canada it must be aged for a minimum of 3 years in barrels to provide its name! Therefore, like most micro-distilleries, to achieve profitability, they decided to provide an addition by offering vodka and gin products. Although this option incurs additional costs, the Cirka distillery decided from the start to do everything possible to obtain complete control by working with local grain producers and producing their neutral alcohol on site.
The initial two products launched still remain available, considering one was a Limited Edition gin for Montreal’s 375th anniversary. It is in sorts a kind of “Old Tom” version from the original. The mention of a “limited edition” may be somewhat confusing as it is in fact a regular product currently available. However, each of its productions is currently produced in small quantities only as some ingredients are seasonal …
On December 23, 2019, the Cirka distillery officially launched its first whiskey production of 100% “rye” made in Quebec! The event took place on site where some of the buyers could recuperate the bottles they ordered online a few weeks prior. Production consisted of just under 850 bottles produced and everything sold out within two days. Premier Whiskey 93/07 Reserve Paul Cirka is made from 93% Yamachiche rye and 7% malted chocolate rye from Germany. This 3-year-old whiskey’s operation included a 2 years aging process in virgin oak barrels, followed by bourbon barrels and concluded with a 3-month aging in 30-year-old Oloroso sherry barrels. This combination allows it to achieve its caramelized color. It provides a spicy side but also a certain fullness including nuances of cocoa, figs, dates and sweet tobacco. They produce their whiskey from grain-to-bottle distilling in order to achieve control. As in Scottish tradition, the very first barrel filled in 2016 was sealed and destined to never be opened.
A second whiskey made solely using 100% Quebec corn, should be released in the spring. However, marketing is working on an exclusivity for bars and restaurants only. The third will be destined for the SAQ stores next summer and should consist of a “blend” (rye/corn blend). Finally, there is also a “single malt” in the works, but we will have to be patient for this one as only time will decide when it will be ready.
In early 2020 we experienced the birth of another gin. A “Navy Strength” gin at 57.1% bottled in the same shape as that of a whiskey. This style will become the standard of the distillery and will be adopted by the three elders for all future productions, displaying an evolution in their visual marketing.
Photos by : © Nemo [ photographe ] for Distilleries Canada