when you hear the phrase ‘would you care for a drink?” in a male British accent you think one thing: kind of James Bond-ish, but when Peter Wilkins is the Englishman it takes on meaning much deeper than shaken or stirred.
he, along with business partner and long-time friend William Carter both care very much for the drink. they care about the sourcing, the scents, the process, the making, distilling, the bottling, the distributing, the selling and the consuming. they are the two behind The Newfoundland Distillery Company, the first full distillery active in Newfoundland in more than 125 years.
the product line can be found at Newfoundland Liquor Corporation stores and outlets throughout the province, as well as at The Newfoundland Distillery Company itself in Clarke’s Beach. it started with the gin. in keeping with the tastes of his birthplace, Peter saw the resurgence of gin as a perfect fit for his Newfoundland home (think juniper and other flora of the forest). meanwhile Bill had spent years Master Chef-ing for political elites in Ottawa (including a few Prime Ministers), had perfected the delicate balances of look and scent and taste and presentation, and was ready to head home.
The Newfoundland Distillery started production in 2016 and local is the focus and is used as far as possible. the vodka uses local barley (triple shocker - 1) vodka is made from barley, and, 2) we grow barley!), and 3) more barley has been planted on the west coast of the island. while that barley is growing, barley from other Atlantic provinces is being used, and when that’s unavailable wheat from other Atlantic provinces is used.
less surprising is the local sourcing of juniper berries, bakeapples, savory, but the surprise bumps up again with seaweed. Peter says, “it tastes a bit salty but not tingly. it’s not common, but we aren’t the first to use it either. i’ve had another very nice one in London. it’s a bit of A Thing.” The Newfoundland Distillery makes gin, vodka and aquavit. a couple of flavours of rum, and whiskey is coming around 2020, after the minimal requisite three years’ maturation time.
the distillery features a tasting room to sample their products and it will also serve some food, smoked fish, charcuterie and cheese, all as local as possible, so friends, families and aficionados can experience the smooth and exciting tastes in the midst of smooth and exciting scenery.
community-building is very important for The Newfoundland Distillery Company. along with being as local as possible, their first aim is to be able to supply the finest quality spirits to the province, sourced and made in the province. once they can do that, they have dreams of exporting to the rest of Canada, the US, Europe and then the world, creating lots of jobs while celebrating the purity of the province.