Smooth. Round. Smells like a field of wildflowers. With descriptors like this, I bet you don’t think that I am talking about gin. Certainly not the mass produced Heindricks or Gordons gin that is. Rather, it is exactly how I would describe my first sip of Juniper’s Wit Gin made by Prince Edward County’s first (and only) craft distillery Kinsip House of Fine Spirits. For fans of The County, you might jump in to correct me, “Hold on…there IS another distillery there.” Well the big news is that the 66 Gilead distillery was the original business run by a husband & wife team, was recently sold to a sister & brother team with their spouses ready to lend a hand. Jeremiah Soucie is the proud new owner and self taught master distiller with 3 very supportive partners – his wife Sarah Waterston her brother, Michael and his wife Maria.
The Kinsip Story
Sarah & Jeremiah live in Ottawa while Sarah’s brother Michael & his wife Maria reside in Toronto. Both couples have 2 children of the same age: 2 & 6 years old. For years, the two families have been rendez-vousing in The County for weekend getaways and family holidays. “The County is a perfect place to meet in the middle”, acknowledged Sarah.
Their jaunts to Prince Edward County were certainly not with the intent of starting a business there – let alone a distillery. This foursome has busy lives & careers. In Ottawa, Sarah is a pediatrician and Jeremiah is an Orange Critical Care Paramedic. Maria is an executive in a high tech company based in Toronto. Michael is also involved in the medical field.
Despite their city addresses, both couples longed for their children to grow up in a rural environment. And Jeremiah was exploring various avenues in The County to see where he could make a dramatic career move. He considered being a chef. He took a cheese making course. “It’s funny, I initially thought in terms of food not the drinks side”, Jeremiah explained in an interview for The County’s ‘Build a New Life’ site that profiles dynamic people leaving the cities for The County. In this situation, this foursome are calling Ottawa, Toronto AND Prince Edward County home.
“Prince Edward County is a community of people who are committed to excellence of food and drink,” proudly shares Sarah. “Now with Kinsip, we bring people together in a wonderfully welcoming and beautiful setting.”
Handing over the keys….
Encouraged by the craft beer explosion in Ottawa, Jeremiah got his wheels in motion to add to the craft scene with an small batch distillery. Still in the back of his mind though, he wanted his kids to experience living in the country like he enjoyed during his childhood. Then fate stepped in. The owners of 66 Gilead – Sophia Pantazi and Peter Stroz – were selling their business. “They laid the ground work”, explained Sarah. “66 Gilead is the second craft distillery in Ontario. They have been dealing with all of the uphill battles with alcohol regulators. They have paved the roads for other craft distilleries to flourish.” Recently, North of 7 Distillery opened its doors in Ottawa and Top Shelf Distillers is established in Perth. “When the opportunity to purchase 66 Gilead presented itself, we were very fortunate for this opportunity.” Respecting hard work of Sophia and Peter, the foursome have slightly tweaked the recipes of the portfolio and rebranded to Kinsip House of Fine Spirits to put their mark on the product. Dillon Reynolds, the distiller from 66 Gilead, continues to work his magic with the still and lives onsite to manage day-to-day operations.
Small batch vokda, gin, rye and rum remain the core of their portfolio. Everything is distilled onsite. They purposely use local ingredients in their concoctions including honey, maple syrup, berries, cherries and black currants. Plans are afoot to grow their own grains on the 40 acre farm. “We have found a secret spot to forage wild juniper berries for our gin.” Sarah says with a I-am-not-going-to-tell-you-anything-more smirk.
Bitters make cocktails even better!
While artisanal cocktails rising in popularity, handcrafted bitters are skyrocketing. Sarah smiles as she pulls out the dozen plus bottles of bitters that Jeremiah makes to give cocktails made with his spirits added pizzazz. The combinations remind me of Baskin & Robbins ice cream flavours – Coffee Pecan, Lavender Lemon, Hibiscus Rosehip, Vanilla Rye and my personal favorite – Chilli Espresso. Visit the distillery on the weekends and Sarah will teach you her tricks in the Mixology classes she offers onsite. All in the effort to perfect a cocktail with a splash and dash of their magic bitters.
“We came to this adventure from the love of food. Now we taste together and celebrate life together around the table,” shares Sarah.
Now you have YET another reason to hit the road this summer bound for The County.
Kinsip House of Fine Spirits
66 Gilead Road, located outside of village of Bloomfield
Tasting Room is open from Thursday to Monday 10am – 5pm
Gin Cocktail Recipe
2 ounces of Kinsip Juniper’s Wit Gin
1 long cucumber
1 ounce of Simple syrup
4 oz. sparkling wine (Preferably from The County!)
Kinsip Lemon Lavender Bitters
Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin ribbons from cucumber.
Cut 6″ of cucumber into small pieces. Muddle in a cocktail shaker, then add gin and simple syrup and fill shaker with ice. Shake and strain into 2 ice-filled rocks glasses or large wine glasses.
Top each with 4 oz. of sparkling wine, garnish with 3 cucumber ribbons and gently stir together. Apply 2-3 drops of bitters to the top and serve.
Kinsip Spirits Tasting Notes
Kinsip’s Duck Island Rum
Impression from a Rum Fan: A heavy caramel nose laced with citrus overtones when served warmed & no ice. Very light initially on the tongue with gentle vanilla and molasses, it matures to a more robust navy rum feel in the mouth. All the citrus colours and dripping sugars running out to join the party with some hot buttered toast! Delightful sweet and salty finish that lingers pleasantly. When ice is added, the melted water allows more molasses type flavours out in a rounder finish while giving the sip a pleasant maple syrup length. Stunning
Crimson Rye Whisky
Impression from a Scotch Drinker: Unusually dark. When poured neat & rolled in the hand, it liberates an intense smokiness reminiscent of Highland peaty malts. When rolled in the mouth, it opens to a wonderful wide palette of flavours, interestingly dried grapes come to mind with characteristics of ice wine (without the sweetness) or Amarone wine. A drier finish than expected but standout good and different. When ice is added, the character shifts delightfully in to something altogether more playful. Some brandy-esque notes are released also allowing am almost port like first taste on the tip of the tongue. This mellows beautifully to sweeter sugars and a light smokiness. Very pleasant.
This article originally appeared in the Ottawa Life Magazine – May/June 2017 issue