Trips to Lang Pioneer Village as a kid stuck with Robert Black. He recalls touring the old grist mill and learning about Red Fife wheat and its importance to the agricultural community, not only in Peterborough County, but in Canada. He learned that wheat variety was one of the oldest in Canada and was first planted by David Fife and his family in 1842 at their farm near Peterborough.
That tidbit of knowledge sprouted into an idea while on a week-long distillery tour in Scotland with his brother in 2010. Black returned home to Peterborough with an idea.
“It’s (grown) right here in our own backyard with a historic connection to Peterborough. And I thought it’d be wonderful to create a spirit from that grain and that’s what I set out to do,” says Black.
In early March, he opened Black’s Distillery inside the former Video 99 store on Hunter Street East. It took about a year before Black could begin distilling. The store space had to be renovated to house the copper stills needed for the process. An intricate plumbing system of valves and levers also had to be installed.
A supplier helped custom design the still then all the parts were delivered and installed.
Black’s Distillery sells bottles of vodka and gin at its location at 99 Hunter St. East. Black says he is also planning to release a white rye whiskey and a white barley whiskey,
“Down the road, we will have an aged rye whiskey and a barrel-aged whiskey,” says Black.
In the future, Black also has plans to open a tasting bar at the distillery where he can hold events or have a mixologist come in to show people how to make unique drinks with his spirits.
“That might be fun for a date night,” says Black.
But for now, people can sample his products or purchase 750-millilitre bottles. The vodka sells for $39.95 and the gin goes for $40.95.
Black’s Distillery vodka will also be available at the LCBO in June. Black expects his gin to be approved for sale at the LCBO as well.
An open house event is also planned on May 19 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Black’s Distillery is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.