Whisky production comes back to the city after almost 140 years.
Patent 5 distillery set is ready to start its work in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday, February 28. An artisanal distillery plans to produce vodka, gin and whisky. There will also be a large tasting room.
Patent 5 distillery is located on Alexander Avenue in the building that was used to house steamship-delivery horses during Winnipeg's warehouse boom. Patent 5 distillery owners were looking for a place for the plant for more than five years and they could not find a better building than this one.
Whiskey will go on sale a few years later since the technology of preparation is much more complicated than that of vodka or gin.
"I'm hoping that a year after we make it, we'll be able to offer some for people to taste and buy and understand where we're going with our three, five and 10-year-old whiskies," said Coutts, one of the owners of the plant.
"I don't like whisky that you have to let sit for a long time to air out and you sort of wince when you take your first sip. It should be a beautifully smooth whisky, from the first sip to the end of the drink," he added.
A little bit later, Patent 5 distillery also plans to open a tasting room at the now-shuttered St. Regis Hotel.
"We've had lots of people walk in and say, 'are you ever lucky,' " said Coutts, noting the Dominion Express Co. building and the St. Regis were completed two years apart.
In the tasting room, people will be able to taste both clean drinks and cocktails based on them. Brendan O'Shaughnessy has been mixing drinks in Vancouver for five years and now he will create the cocktail menu.
"To work in a room that feels like the era when cocktails started is really nice," said O'Shaugnessy, standing in his future workspace.
Coutts also said that for him brewing whiskey is a similar to brewing beer. However, not everyone agrees.
"Most beer guys would argue that's not the case," he laughs. "Whisky is just another beer-like product."
Besides Patent 5 distillery, there is no more whiskey production in Winnipeg, despite its history.