Many of you have asked when our new Canadian Oak barrels will be ready? I always think it will be just around the corner, just one more thing and we can start pumping barrels out of the cooperage. The truth is, sometimes in life and in business, things don't go as planned. Not to make excuses for it but to share our story and tell you why it's taking so damn long, here's the Cole's Notes on starting our cooperage.....
It all started in December 2015 with the purchase of assets from a bankrupt cooperage in Prince Edward County. Because what better business to get into than one that for the last 50 years has a history of being unsustainable in Canada!
The cooperage equipment was moved into a small garage at the family cottage as we knew we needed to sell our home in order to purchase a suitable property to operate the future vision of a large scale cooperage. Spring and summer 2016 was spent finishing the basement and completing all those other jobs I had neglected when building the home ourselves. With the house sold we purchased a new build town home to live in until the perfect farm would come up for sale. And while we waited for the new townhouse to be built, my wife 5 months pregnant, we moved into a rental apartment.
During this time we would head up to the cottage on weekends (we also have full time jobs during the week) to work at the temporary shop. I was able to learn that the stuff I just bought wasn't sufficient to make a barrel I'd be willing to put my name on or safe enough to keep my fingers intact. It was time to re-imagine barrel making.
To be continued in next month's issue of the Chime!
Buy the gift you really wanted for Christmas, County Cooperage hats and toques have arrived for winter! Check out the links below for two styles of hats and toques in four colours that can be worn with the brim rolled up or down. Our opinion may be biased....but we are loving this merch!
Head Stamp History! We see thousands of barrels pass through our warehouse every year and some give glimpses into the history of past and present Canadian Distilleries. These are their stories.
Toronto distilling history is dominated by the widely known Gooderham and Worts brand where you can walk through the distillery district and see the physical reminder of its past. But there was another internationally recognized distillery just down the lakeshore in Etobicoke, that today bears no remaining indication of its presence and produces a different kind of Canadiana, hockey talent instead of whisky.
The W&A Gilbey Distillery was opened in 1933 in the town of New Toronto after brothers, Walter and Alfred, had worldwide success selling Gin they produced in England and needed to expand operations to North America to keep up with their growing popularity. Eventually the distillery began to produce local whiskys, for which the distiller had his first taste and compared the texture and consistency to velvet – thus the name Black Velvet was coined.
The brand was marketed by famous spokespeople such as Tanya Tucker and Christie Brinkley but in the end it was the Canadian Whisky’s popularity that closed the doors on the old Gilbey Distillery as the company was sold and a new distillery was opened in Lethbridge Alberta to increase production where it is still made by Heaven Hill Brands.
Today on the grounds of the Gilbey Distillery sits the Ford Performance Centre where you can visit the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies practice facility, Hockey Hall of Fame Resource Centre and Hockey Canada Ontario Region Centre. But don’t expect to find any signs of Canada’s other national treasure, Canadian Whisky.