Canada’s largest Distiller, Hiram Walker & Sons, is one of Windsor’s most interesting tourist attractions, an employer of over 350 people and is arguably part of the backbone on which our city was built. Many of us drive past these massive brick buildings on a daily basis without really knowing the meat and potatoes of what goes on inside. Fellow community blog, WindsorEats is doing their part to school tourists and locals during their grain to glass tours beginning next month. We were invited on a small media preview of the distillery (the first time they’ve opened to us laymen in 16 years) and now I can say I’ll be passing by in awe of the important history and innovation.
My Grandfather has a coffee table book about the rum-runners – I’ve read through it countless times over the years and always imagined Windsor in the roaring 20s as a haven for Americans in need of liquid libations. Needless to say I was pretty upset to hear about the imminent closure of the Canadian Club Heritage Centre and the effect it would have on local tourism. This portion of the Hiram Walker tour didn’t go into much of the bootlegging history, something I know the Drinks of Walkerville tour offers, but I have to give kudos to WindsorEats for encouraging the distillery to showcase the long lasting beauty and ingenuity housed here.
Dr. Don Livermore, with a PhD in brewing and distilling, is Hiram Walker‘s master blender and an incredible wealth of knowledge, making him the perfect guide. You’ll have to take the tour for yourself (once they add more dates, the first 3 dates sold out in a matter of hours) because I’d have to write an essay to cover everything we learned.
One of the most interesting aspects of the tour was learning how important the distillery is for Essex-County farmers. Most of the grains are grown here and used to produce the 45 million litres of alcohol the distillery pumps out each year. Not only do they use the grains to make the alcoholic beverages, they dry the leftovers and ship them back to the farms as a high protein cow feed. This is actually what produces the “yeasty” smell we’re so familiar with in Walkerville. So neat!
Once again a big shout out to Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd. and WindsorEats for adding incredible value to the community with this tour – I’ll have a lot more to think about next time I order a rye + coke.
Keep in touch with WindsorEats for info on additional distillery openings and to sign up for one of their many regional cycling tours, festivals, events and more.