‘Beyond excited’: Winnipeg distillery releasing its first Canadian whisky

A Winnipeg distillery is releasing a product that hasn’t been made within city limits for more than a century.

Patent 5 Distillery is bringing its rye whisky to market this week, something president Paul Coutts says is a first for the craft spirit market.

“We’re beyond excited,” he said. “With gin, it takes about three months from the time you make it to the time you release it, so you get pretty instant feedback. This was made over three years ago, so it’s, it feels like a really long wait.”

National regulations require the spirit to be aged for at least three years in a barrel before it can be called Canadian whisky. Coutts notes planning for the whisky started four years ago.

“This isn’t actually our first attempt at whisky,” he said. “Our first 10 weren’t quite good enough for release, but you learn along the way, the same as you do with gin and vodka.

“So we decided when we started the distillery, just over four years ago, that whisky was absolutely something that we were going to make.”

The whisky was aged in a new charred oak barrel and finished in a sherry barrel. Coutts said the whisky will have some characteristics of bourbon and rye, but also will pay tribute to Winnipeg’s distilling past.

“The last whisky that was produced in Winnipeg in 1880 was a wheat whisky. So we sort of wanted to pay tribute to that whisky,” he said.

Single Barrel Release 1 will be available starting Thursday, with Coutts saying the first batch will consist of roughly 240 bottles, with some being held back for the distillery’s cocktail room.

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