Located in Mont-Joli in Gaspésie, after starting its activities in May, Mitis Distillery officially opened its doors to the public on July 18, 2019.
The project was born in 2016 by Yan Lévesque and David Soucy out of a shared passion for spirits and a desire to participate in the region’s development by creating distinctive quality Quebec spirits.
The location was selected in large part because of the quality of the water from the Mitis River, which contributes to the good realization of the products, but it is also a strategic tourist spot.
Yan Lévesque, who is initially an electromechanical engineer, thought and designed every detail of the distillery to meet their needs in an optimal way. The 1000 liter pot style still was also designed according to their requirements, on two floors, to use natural gravity. A small anecdote, the counter that receives visitors, comes from an old dead tree on the land of David Soucy, who was originally a forest engineer.
Their spirits are made from local and imported ingredients, but sugar cane-based spirits are their main focus.
However, they initially developed Mugo gin, because gin does not require a period of aging. It quickly won a double GOLD medal (the highest distinction) at the 2019 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition, and then a GOLD medal with special mention to terroir at the Canadian Artisan Competition in British Columbia. It is a “dry gin” made from a quality neutral alcohol, which in addition to juniper berries, includes hand-picked mountain pine, known as Mugo, from the nearby Jardins de Métis. You guessed it, that’s where it gets its name. Other ingredients include sea buckthorn, dune pepper, iris root, two varieties of angelica (European and Gaspesian), pink pepper and coriander. The result is a balanced gin with resinous notes, slightly spicy but still fresh.
To celebrate their first anniversary of opening, the distillery launched its second product by keeping it exclusively available on site: the Mitis. This is in fact the product they had in mind from the very beginning of their project. It is an “almost” rum that cannot bear the name because it is designed in a different way to achieve a different, more refined result. It is made by fermenting fancy molasses and organic cane sugar which is then distilled to make the base of the spirit. It is, by the way, the same as for their rum which is aged in bourbon barrels (this one should be available around December 2020). In the case of the Mitis, the alcohol is then macerated with roasted Quebec wood (sugar maple, yellow birch and apple), to which French and American white oak is added to obtain a balanced, lively and woody product that evokes the aromas of small, artisanal sugar shacks, with its sweet maple taffy finish.
With success in mind, the two partners are already in the expansion projects that were conceived at the same time as their phase 1, which will essentially consist of a cellar room in which nothing will have been left to chance.
Photos credits : © Nemo [ photographe ] for Distilleries Canada.