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Sleeman Breweries founder to open distillery in Guelph

President and CEO of Spring Mill Distilleries, John Sleeman says they hope to produce gin, vodka and eventually whisky. Dulin / Getty Images

John Sleeman is taking another page of out his family’s history book as he prepares to open a distillery in Guelph.

Distilling liquor is also in the Sleeman Breweries chairman’s blood.

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“Back when my great-great-grandfather came from England in 1834 to build Sleeman Breweries, about two years later he moved a mile or so up the road and built the distillery called Spring Mill,” Sleeman said in a phone interview.

Just the like the brewery he resurrected in the 1980s, Sleeman will be doing the same with Spring Mill Distillery, which is scheduled to open in the Metalworks Development on Arthur Street by Christmas.

“I’ve always enjoyed a good glass of whisky and a nice gin and tonic, and I thought why not try and do something a little different,” Sleeman said.

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The distillery will initially produce vodka and gin, but eventually, the plan is to release four different kinds of whiskies.

To be considered a whisky in Canada, the liquid needs first to sit in barrels for at least three years, Sleeman explained.

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“We’re going to sit it in barrels for at least three years and if it’s not ready in three years, it’s not coming out,” he said.

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Unlike the beer Sleeman has brewed for so many years, the liquor he plans on producing will not come from an old family recipe.

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“Regrettably, there was no recipe book for the distillery, so this is going to be a bit of a challenge because we’re going to come up with our new recipes,” Sleeman said.

When it opens, the new distillery will feature tours along with a bar and retail area.

A restaurant is also apart of the Metalworks project, but Sleeman said he’s not involved with that.

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