The Toronto Distillery Company: It’s a micro-distiller, and it reflects a new generation of whiskymakers making products for a new generation of whisky drinkers. Charles Benoît and Jesse Razaqpur focus on highly traceable and locally sourced grain for their whisky. In a world built for Hiram Walker, one of the world’s largest distillers, to sell to the LCBO, the world’s largest purchaser of beverage alcohol, operating an innovative still at a small scale has presented challenges and opportunities.
I speak with Charles Benoit on this episode, which I’ve broken into two parts. The first part is the origin story of Toronto Distilling Company and legal challenges they've encountered. Get ready for us to fuss about the food and drugs regulations standard of identity for Canadian whisky and rye, straight whisky, the Excise Act, and the process of creating a new mark from Canadian Whisky's standard of identity to separate what Canada’s micro-distillers are creating versus more traditional distillers.
The second part is all about this Constitutional challenge brought by the Toronto Distilling Company to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s ambiguous proprietary charge to distillers – a 140% mark-up on all sales by a distiller at their shop. I’ll note that since we recorded this, Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa has announced a 61.5% spirits tax is to be passed in the legislature. This has been largely received as being bad news for micro distillers - see the Ontario Craft Distiller's Association's comments here, Great Friend of the Pod Mark Bylok's take here, and Ben Johnson's take here. So, if you’re looking specifically for Bill 70, Spirit tax, or #freemyrye content, that’s all going to be in part two.
If you're particularly engaged by this issue and wish to take Charles up on his suggestion of writing your MP to discuss a graduated tax or creating space for micro-distillers, here's where Queen's Park keeps all MPP addresses, electoral district maps, etc.
American Distilling Institute
Bill 70: Building Ontario Up for Everyone Act
Mark Bylok and Jamie Johnson and The Whisky Topic Podcast
Richard Florida on Washington DC
Last Straw Distillery
Mike Hook, Intrepid Lawyer
BC's Mark-up Exemption for Direct Sales
Here's a really nice case summary of Toronto Distillery Company Co. v. LCBO, AGCO, and the Queen in Right of Ontario by WTTFC friend and colleague, Dan Coles at Alcohol and Advocacy
The Future of Food Law and Policy Conference
Music: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass - El Lobo, fair use, and Shane MacPherson - Pod Mix, under licence.