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First 100% Canadian rye whisky launched

Dillon’s Distillers in Ontario Canada, has created what is arguably the first 100% Canadian rye whisky made from 100% Ontario-grown rye grain and aged in Canadian oak.

To be released this month, August, the limited edition whisky in packaging created by Insite Design in Ontario. A descriptive 'map' telling the brand story is wrapped around the 200ml bottles and tied at the neck with copper bands, which were used in Dillon's copper pot still during the distillation process to increase the copper's beneficial affect on the rye.  

“This craft rye represents the long road to fulfilling a dream of creating an exceptional 100% Canadian rye,” explains Geoff Dillon, Co-owner & Distiller. “It’s also the beginning of an exciting stage for Dillon’s as we explore all that Canada can do in the field of distilling; from the farmers, coopers, malters and distillers, this rye is their expression.

“The story of our rye is the story of people and this place we call Canada. You see, people of every growing region in the world harvest grains and trees that are distinct signatures of the soil. These people adapt to their land and craft, applying their own unique approaches and expressions. The result of this ‘people in place’ affect for us is that we believe there was once a distinct Canadian identity to rye – a Canadian rye that reflected the soul of this land and hearts of our people.

“We believed that to do this we would have to rebuild what was once the foundation of the Canadian rye tradition: To reconnect the dots on the map between the rye farmer, the malter, the miller, the cooper and the distiller. To reconstruct the relationship that led to the highly charactered Canadian rye being one of the most well regarded and distinct whiskies in the world. And so we did.

“To be called Canadian rye whisky means something. To be called 100% rye whisky made in Canada means something more. It means pride. It means at least three full years of aging in oak casks. It means made from nothing but pure rye grain – no barley, wheat, and no corn.  It means distilled one batch at a time in pot stills – not continuously in columns. It means no flavourings and no colourings were ever added. It means what we put on the label is what is inside the bottle.  It means liquid truth.

“After years of work, crafting and aging, we are proud to introduce you to our first Dillon’s 100% Rye Whisky. Cheers to a new tradition of revealing the distinct character of whisky from our region and to the charactered people who made this a reality.”

The People
THE COOPER - Jim Hedges
An epiphany while hiking in 1998 led Jim, a practicing surgeon, into working with the abundant Canadian oak that grew near Brantford. Combined winemaking and woodworking experience came together to follow his hunch that Canadian oak barrels should be proudly used in wine and spirit making, to add distinct Canadian character in the aging process. Years later Jim’s cooperage provides barrels to many of Canada’s, and the worlds, finest wines ~ as well as Dillon’s rye whisky.

THE MILLER - Volker Storjohann
Growing up next to the family flour mill in Oakland Ontario, Volker went on to become a mechanical engineer, working in the assembly automation industry. His father, after 47 years in the milling industry retired and Volker decided to continue on at the flour mill. Today the mill still specialises in processing Ontario rye grains. Volker once again resides next to the flour mill raising three kids with the hope that they will continue the family milling tradition.

THE MALTER - Mike Driscoll
A passion for beer brewing and local ingredients led Mike down a path of years of research and planning to create Ontario’s first micro-maltery. Mike began the building of a malting process with the first production batch of rye malt for Dillon’s. A man after our own heart, Mike shares our passion for local quality ingredients, buying only select Ontario grains to produce rye, wheat and barley malts. His operation was certified in 2015 to produce organic and non-organic malts.

THE DISTILLER - Geoff Dillon
From a young age Geoff dreamed of setting his own route toward crafting great spirits and especially, a true and remarkable rye whisky. With a passion for doing things honestly and differently, he hand picked a cast of characters to help reach his goals and with this release of Rye 1, the dream has become a reality.

Dillon’s Canadian Rye 1, (10% malted rye, 90% unsalted rye) aged: 41 months in new Ontario oak, non-chill filtered, is bottled at 59% ABV in very limited 200ml bottles.


1 August 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor