Master distiller at Wayne Gretzky Winery & Distillery
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery opened in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario in the spring of 2017. The 23,000 square foot facility is the first of its kind in the region, featuring both wine and distilling production, and tasting rooms. Along with some great tasting wines, the facility also produces two core whisky brands (Red Cask and Ice Cask), along with special releases such as Ninety-Nine Proof, which is bottled at 49.5% ABV, and the seasonal Canadian Cream.
Master distiller, Joshua Beach, has long been a lover of spirits, and after university he decided to pursue his passion. He studied at Heriot Watt in Scotland, where he completed his MSc in Brewing and Distilling at one of the best schools in the world. He then gained experience with brewing and distilling in Europe before returning to Canada to start Odd Society Spirits. Located in Vancouver, he operated with a business partner between Oct 2013 and Apr 2016, before returning to his home province of Ontario to begin his dream career.
The original No. 99 Red Cask Canadian Whisky is made in small batches from grain (rye, malted rye, and corn) that has been individually mashed, fermented, and distilled. After aging, the whisky is finished with red wine casks from the Wayne Gretzky winery. "What makes us stand out is that each of these barrels has a story and they all bring together this unique and consistent taste profile with aromas of caramel, toasted oak and a hint of allspice for a truly elegant and rich taste,” said Beach.
Gretzky added, “I have always enjoyed a good whisky and was thrilled to work with Joshua to create a new fabulous Canadian whisky. What’s truly exciting is we are using oak wine barrels from our red wines to finish the whisky for a really smooth and refined taste.” No. 99 Red Cask can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in premium cocktails including: “Top Shelf,” “The 99,” and “The Great Old Fashioned,” all listed on the company website.
The No. 99 Ice Cask is finished in Vidal Blanc Icewine barrels, while the premium Ninety Nine Proof is aged a minimum three years in once-used Bourbon barrels and more than 100 days in Wayne Gretzky Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The newest addition to the product line, the seasonal Canadian Cream, offers the aromas and flavours of almond, cream, dark biscuit, nutmeg and toasted wafer. It’s excellent with coffee.
Visitors to the distillery can learn the art of making whisky by taking one of the available classes that are offered daily. The Whisky Bartender: Cocktails 101, lets guests learn how to make their favourite whisky cocktails, while The Great Canadian Whisky Tour offers guests the opportunity to learn about the history of Canadian whisky, distilling and blending, and of course sampling.
Wayne Gretzky whiskies are available at the LCBO here in Ontario, or online at gretzkyestateswines.com