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Top-Shelf Distillers That Stepped Up


Not content to wait out a crisis, these distillers – all featured in our latest issue – decided to make an impact

By Designlines

Distillers were put in a unique position at the start of this crisis. Amid the early uncertainty of stay-at-home orders and runs on home essentials, many realized that they could help in a direct and immediate way. Instead of spirits, they could produce sanitizer, filling a need left by the quasi-panic that saw retailers’ shelves laid bare.

When we decided to feature Spirit of York, Kinsip and Willibald in our latest issue (which you can get here), it was because they’re all either in or around Toronto, distill a delicious drop and feature distinctive bottle design. That hasn’t changed, but since that issue went to print, each has stepped up to make positive impact during this crisis, bottling the stuff we need, not just the stuff we love. Not only that, they did so selflessly: Spirit of York donated all proceeds from its sanitizer to local food banks; Willibald, after giving it away for free, teamed up with a pair of public health organizations and another distiller-made-sanitizer-producer, Murphy’s Law Moonshine, to send bottles to northern Indigenous communities; and Kinsip, from the foot of its property, gave away bottles for free, first to frontline workers, then to the public at large.

So, if you’re wondering what to add to your bar, consider the following three spirits: they drink well, are available either at the LCBO or for delivery, and are produced by small business that give back. What else could you want?

Spirit of York

Northern Spirit

Save for a twist of citrus, Spirit of York largely sticks to Nordic tradition, loading its Aquavit with dill and anise-y caraway. $50, at the LCBO, spiritofyork.com


Rum Runner

More solo sipper than daiquiri filler, Kinsip’s Dark Waters Rum is laden with orange marmalade and oak. Plus, its art deco label is a standout. $60, kinsip.ca


Pinky Swear

Six months in Niagara wine casks lend Willibald’s Pink Gin its rosé hue and red fruit aromas. Estate-produced honey sweetens the deal. $40, at the LCBO, drinkwillibald.com

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