Making spirits has been a daydream of Shane Prodan's for years.
After dealing with marketing, regulations and sourcing ingredients, he said the reaction from the public after opening Sudbury's first distillery has been a pleasant surprise.
His venture, Crosscut Distillery, opened its doors April 4 in an industrial park in the city's south end.
The first few months have been one long experiment in different formulas, gauging public opinion and keeping up with demand.
"It may sound corny, but the reaction we've been getting has been heartwarming," he said. "The alcohol manufacturing industry is one of the most heavily regulated, next to the oil industry. The first year is not exciting, but the passion keeps us going."
The distillery is the first in the city and one of the few in the province classified as a grains-to-glass establishment. All their alcohol is produced on the premises, with most of their grains and botanicals coming from local growers.
Recently, LCBO locations in Sudbury have been carrying their product. This is a huge milestone Prodan has been working towards since the beginning, he said, as it means consumers can find their product in other locations besides the distillery.
Some ingredients, especially those found in gin, are not available in Canada and have to be shipped.
The spent grains and botanicals go back to the farms for compost and fertilizer.
The name "Crosscut" is a play on words and a nod to the region's mining and forestry heritage. A crosscut is a diagonal cut across the main grain or axis of wood or stone.
Even the bottle is designed to mimic a crosscut.
It's tougher creating a local product, especially with Northern Ontario having fewer farms to draw from as opposed to southern distilleries, but it's a passion Prodan's had since he decided to return to the North two and a half years ago.
"My wife has family in Elliot Lake and Sudbury, and we wanted to be closer to family while planning this," he said.
During the planning phases, they were not looking at being in an industrial park. The location has some challenges, but it is proving to be a great fit. They are located across the street from Stack Brewing, surrounded by industrial services, a short walk from a residential neighbourhood, and next to a major roadway.
"We've forged a friendly relationship with the people at Stack. They've been helpful with tips and insight into festivals and markets we could get into, as well as help with joint tours," said...