Adrian Spitzer and Mark Watson, the owners and inspiration behind Dunrobin Distilleries, are lifelong friends who grew up near Old Ottawa South. They have both been entrepreneurs all their lives, with Mark heading Earth Innovations and Adrian running his own advertising and marketing companies. That all changed when the idea arose and a long-term vision and dream took shape to start a craft distillery. Mark had moved to Dunrobin, Ontario and owned the farm where it all started. They learned about organic, researched and grew their organic crops on the farm and continuously refined the award-winning whiskey, gin and vodka they produce. In 2017 Dunrobin Distilleries opened their doors and sold their organic quality products in small batches with rave reviews. Their motto: The spirit of discovery.
Since opening, the distillery has been a success with many industry peers providing excellent feedback to Adrian and Mark. As an aside, Adrian shared with Stittsville Central, “We both love to cook with only fresh, high-quality ingredients. We applied that approach to our mind. Mark’s farm is certified botanical, but not certified organic, any more than the bees that produce the honey for their liqueurs. This is due to the neighboring farms that are not certified. There must be a five-mile radius of organic farms before they are certified organic.
Dunrobin Distilleries, Ottawa’s premier craft distillery, announced its latest triumphs in international spirit competitions, winning a total of ten awards in three different global competitions. These international accolades amplify even more Dunrobin Distilleries’ reputation as a world-class premium Canadian distillery, with a wide range of products winning the highest awards for exceptional quality and taste. In addition, their bottle design, which pays tribute to Canada with a glass-blown maple leaf rising from the bottom of each bottle, is also known for its bold design and exemplifies the Canadian spirit of innovation and expertise on store shelves and on the global stage. Already winners of international distillation awards in their first year of competition in 2021, Dunrobin’s reputation builds on its local roots.
From the 2022 UK Spirits Business Gin Masters Competition (tThe Global Spirits Masters (GSM) is an international competition that assesses spirits in every major beverage category. The judging is divided into 21 separate competitions to ensure that each category is judged by specialist judges who are considered experts in that vein.) Adrian told us, “Over 500 entries were submitted and the Dunrobin Distilleries’ Artisan Gin entry in the Best Gin (Micro Distillery) category took home a gold medal and in the Best Flavored Gin category their Dunrobin Earl Gray Gin took home Silver“.
Adrian added, “in the the same week at the International Whiskey Competition held in the US, (The world’s most followed whiskey competition, reaching the whiskey community through various social media channels. Unique medals are designed to promote each of the winning whiskeys.), we took second place with our Dunrobin Canadian Rye Whiskey in the Best Canadian Whiskey category, with 91.1 points. U.S Dunrobin Canadian Rye Whiskey also took second place in the Best Canadian Rye Whiskey competition with an additional 91.1 points. We were directly behind Canadian Club an old Canadian whiskey institution. In the top 100 rankings we were 40th and so happy with these victories”.
Brand added in, “Of 500 different bottles of gin sent inI was quite happy to see my personal favorite, the Earl Gray Gin wins. It was definitely a surprise to me when our whiskey came in second place when we were up against the legendary tall whiskey maker Canadian Club. Our Canadian packaging is unique and people really like it. It’s so exciting to see Ottawa’s world-class products win these awards, not just for Ottawa, but around the world.”
But that’s not all that’s won, the awards went on in recognition of the fine spirits Dunrobin Distilleries produce. At the MicroLiquor Spirits Association competition in USA, (The MLSA competition, a tasting and design competition since 2001, is one of the highest-rated spirits competitions in the world.), their Earl Gray Gin was awarded a *Triple Gold® Medal for its extraordinary taste and received the highest recommendation (the Triple Gold™ Medal is one of the most coveted awards in the spirits industry. Brands that receive this recognition have exceptional taste, quality and integrity.)
At the same MLSA competition, their Craft Vodka received a silver medal and their Artisan Gin received a Bronze Medal. In the Package design contestthe Earl Gray Ginthe Craft Vodka and the Artisan Gin all received Gold medals.
Clearly Adrian and Mark’s strong convictions have paid off – grow many of the quality ingredients on the farm, only using good ingredients and their investment of many hours upfront in planning at 90% and 10% in execution of the product.
Earlier this week they introduced a new drink, Silver Pickle Vodkathat they highly recommend to be the main ingredient in Caesar’s or Dirty Martinis. Silver Pickle Vodka was an “inspiration — where can we go with less salt and sugar,” Adrian said.
Their Limoncello contains honey from the bees on Mark’s farm instead of sugar. The addition of sourced Madagascar vanilla beans gives the liqueur a creamy and warm taste, with the addition of Star anise to add a unique licorice flavor. Adrian shared, “While I was traveling to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, there was a young girl who sold lemonade. I asked her what was the unique flavor I tasted. She just said a whiff of star anise with licorice flavor. I noticed that and when we were developing our Limoncello it just had to be an ingredient“.
Our conversation turned from awards and ingredients to their vision for Dunrobin Distilleries’ Stittsville location at 1498 Stittsville Main Street. Both Adrian and Mark reiterated that they are looking forward to Stittsville becoming their home business. “It will be a great destination for the people of Stittsville and the western end of Ottawa.”
There are plans for Dunrobin Distilleries at their Stittsville location once city approvals are received for the sewerage and water connections. They plan to shovel in the ground in the fall and the building completed in the spring. The building will be three stories and will have one cellar cellar with whiskey barrels; store on the ground floor and a tasting room; patios at the front and rear of the property; a sundeck on the second floor; a commercial kitchen, but no restaurant. Adrian and Mark don’t want to compete with local restaurants, they want to promote and compliment themso have plans to iinvite several restauranteurs to come for a weekend to mark their menus and cook their fantastic food. they will offer lessons to make gins and whiskeys and more and will begin a whiskey club. They will also offer their space for community use.
Mark and Adrian have also preserved some of the building materials from the former Lorne Wagner garage. They reused the wooden beams that will be used in the new building. It was unfortunate to learn that the building had been used as a grow room and would have to be torn down, but knowing that the new construction will hold a little bit of history from this formerly known and respected company and our city of Stittsville holds great promise for this Editor.
We are looking forward to the opening of Dunrobin Distilleries in Stittsvilleespecially when their plans include the appeal of Ottawans and tourists to discover our community as a Stittsville Main Street.
Below is a video of Mark and Adrian sharing their Dunrobin Distilleries story. Enjoying!
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