Spirit York Toronto

Spirit of York

Spirit of York is meant to be a world class distillery for a world class city like Toronto. Vodka and gin made with ingredients found here in Ontario, most notably our spring water, are just the beginning of offerings from this fledgling distillery.

This place is bringing distilling back to the Distillery District. A while ago this used to be a space for Gooderham and Worts, but since then the only other spirit-making operation in this part of town has been the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company.

Spirit York Toronto

The space was designed in part by +tongtong, powerhouse designers for multiple Drake locations, Batch, Torteria San Cosme, and many other outstanding-looking spots. This distillery is no different.

spirit of york torontoThe glimmering open space centres on a stunning circular bar under a hovering live wall of herbs that will be used in future cocktails.

Spirit York Toronto

Especially eye-catching are the chandeliers hanging above the entrance, made of Spirit of York’s custom bottles and incorporating their winding, art-deco-esque logo, which bends the letters S, O and Y into each other.

Spirit York Toronto

The idea here is that you are guided or guide yourself through a tour of the place, easy enough with copper info plates on the walls. Start with a look at 100% Southern Ontario rye grain, take an up-close look at part of the towers outside, and read about spring water and distilling vessels.

Spirit York Toronto

From there, check out the fifteen botanicals that are key to transforming their vodka into their gin, including aromatic cinnamon, dill, star anise, juniper and Cubeb pepper.

Spirit York Toronto

After you’ve seen how it’s all made, sample a flight ($10) of vodka, gin, and a third rotating experimental spirit, which on the day of my visit was a licorice-y, warm aquavit. This vodka is nothing like your average Smirnoff, smoother and richer in flavour. The botanicals enriching the gin, which started out as vodka, bring out even more complexity.

Spirit York TorontoOnce you’ve sampled, bottles to take home ($49.95) are within arm’s reach. Spirit York TorontoThough not for the first months of operation, you should be able to find these homegrown spirits at the LCBO, too.

Spirit York Toronto

Though what goes into the booze is powerfully Ontarian, the equipment that creates was made by fifth generation coppersmiths Carl.

Spirit York TorontoHeavy gauge copper allows for heat conduction, even distillation, temperature control and pulls foul-tasting sulphurs out of the spirit.

Spirit York TorontoThese spirits are so smooth because they’re made from only the purest “soft hearts” of the liquid rather than “heads” or “tails,” and aerating for at least three weeks.

Spirit York Toronto

It’s also because the liquid is distilled just once using impressive distillation towers out back.

Spirit York Toronto

Why not support local spirit making if it tastes this good? You also just might learn something about what you’re drinking.

Spirit York Toronto

Photos by

Hector Vasquez


Spirit of York

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