ATTENTION TO EVERY DETAIL
WE STRIVE TO BE AUTHENTIC HONEST AND TRUE
THE FIRST GRAIN-TO-BOTTLE DISTILLERY IN QUÉbec
PAUL CIRKA AND ISABELLE ROCHETTE
Inspired by a particularly exquisite glass of whisky on a trip to London, Paul Cirka set out to reimagine Canadian whisky. Paul was adamant on establishing regionally distinctive character in his spirits. He found a space along Lachine Canal in Montréal, a stone’s throw from the emblematic silos of the Canada Malting Company, and started production in 2016.
Yes, our logo has a name; it's CLOVIS. Created by local Montreal artist Alain Pilon. In Europe they're known as reindeer but in the cold far north of Canada these majestic creatures are called woodland caribou. Unfortunately, northern herds are facing extinction because of our need for natural resources and hydro electricity. In 2020, the Innu Council of Pessamit formalized an Indigenous protected area project to promote the sustainability of Innu culture, support language revitalization and actively contribute to the recovery of minashkuau-atiku (the woodland caribou). Please consider donating to Société pour la Nature et les Parcs du Canada (SNAP Québec)
We're a small tight-knit group. From production, to sales and marketing our team members work from within the walls of our distillery. This proximity helps with our creative process when developing new products. Once the idea is set, it takes the right mix of research, expertise, and taste testing to balance all of the flavours.“ It’s both exhilarating and unnerving because we want our finished product to live up to the quality of the ingredients,” Isabelle explains.
In 2021, Paul and Isabelle proudly received the Laurier Gastronomy Award for excellence as producers. A meaningful acknowledgement as the 'Oscars of Quebec Hospitality Industry' accumulates it's votes from industry professionals.
Hard at work
CIRKA is embedded in its terroir; sourcing from local farmers and foragers, as well as collaborating with chefs and bartenders. Inspired by microdistilleries across North America and the high quality of homegrown products across the province, we became the first Québec microdistillery to produce spirits from grain-to-bottle, a new concept in the region. As Isabelle Rochette, sommelier and distiller at CIRKA puts it, “we were the first crazy enough to produce grain to glass. It gives us full control over our base product to make it perfect”. At CIRKA, Paul is playing the long game; convenient, since one of the main ingredients in whisky is time. In the meantime, the company has devoted itself to producing white spirits, to incredible international acclaim.
Located at the heart
At one point Montreal was the whisky and rum capital of North America. It became home to the largest spirits company in the world; Seagram. Boats full of grain and malt would sail down the Lachine Canal; where our distillery is located, unloading their cargo at Canada Malting. The silos located across the canal from Cirka, now abandoned and derelict, aren't immune to Montreal's creative spirit. An unknown artist(s) painted the shed perched at the top and changes the display with seasonal additions. We draw on Montreal's creative energy and transfer that passion into our products.
photo: Shaune Thompson