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On a surprise trip to Canada from my wife for my birthday instinct and a knack for ‘sensing’ when we are near a distillery kicked in I realised that we were just a twenty minute drive from a distillery that bears our name. So off we popped to see the Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery. 

I wrote about these guys a year or so ago [] when I reviewed their Batch One White Rye spirit, which is incredible in an Old Fashioned FYI.

We arrived and greeted by Amber and Whitney, two people as passionate about Dillon’s as Kirsty and I are. After catching up, chatting all things Canada and London, looking around the frankly great retail part of the distillery, Geoff Dillon appeared.

Geoff is a smiley, bubbly chap full of personality and enthusiasm. He is the Dillon’s Master Distiller and co-founder.

I spent a few minutes desperately rattling through the family tree to see if we could find a relation in common, but alas it was not to be. Related we are not but co-holders of a brilliant surname we will forever be. 

He showed us around the site, the warehouse and the stills. 

The formalities of the tour took only a few minutes. Why? Because this is genuine craft distilling at its very best. Small batch through and through with every single product having the batch number hand written on the label. Quite refreshing. 

Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery is all about provenance too; fresh Canadian oak casks and 90% locally malted grain and 100% Niagara grapes go towards the creation of their 100% Ontario rye, vodka and gin products. 

“I wanted to create an actual Canadian rye whisky, not a rye produced in Canada using non-Canadian inputs,” explains Geoff. 

The stills at the Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery’s disposal are simply gorgeous, a pot still with two rectifying columns able to perform 23 distillations in series through the two columns, taking flexibility and precision to another level. All made bespoke for Geoff and his team. 

“Basically it does the job of having 23 pot stills in a row”

The Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery White Rye has been a fixture since near the beginning and at some point in the near future they will have spirit aged to the high standards they are demanding and available to release as whisky. 

“I want to wait it out using full size casks so we get to be the kings of Canadian Rye, not just a player in the market,” Geoff states with both pride and authority. 

There are around 100 casks laid down right now, their gin product is flying off the shelf (and rightly so, we enjoyed several G&Ts whilst in Niagara on the Lake, all with Dillon’s and it was incredible) and variants including rose gin, vodka and a raft of different bitters are all taking off big time. 

Just that day they had new mashing and production equipment installed that doubled capacity. This distillery is going places, fast. 

Geoff then kindly allowed me to try the new make, a couple of cask samples direct from the cask and a dram from the very first cask they filled which was also signed by everyone present at his wedding. A really special privilege. 

As regular readers will know, I often get excited when at distilleries, this time with the family name everywhere I returned home with a four litre Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery branded Canadian oak cask, some spirit, some gin, some bitters, a new Old Fashioned glass and two nosing glasses. A good day all round! 

I cannot thank Geoff, Whitney and Amber enough for their incredible hospitality and wish Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery all the success in the future, I cannot wait to go back already. 

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