Cheers! A Q&A With New Brunswick’s Distillerie Fils du Roy

Based in Paquetville N.B., Distillerie Fils du Roy is on a mission to offer excellent spirits at an affordable price to consumers in New Brunswick and beyond.

Despite being from (very) small-town New Brunswick, the family-run distillery has made a name for itself on the international stage. In 2013, their Gin Thuya recipe took home the double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits competition. It also took home the gold at the International Spirit Challenge in London in 2014.

If there’s one thing we appreciate at Huddle (besides good business), it’s a good drink. So we had a chat with Sébastien Roy of Distillerie Fils du Roy about how they do what they do best.

Q: So your family had a meeting in 2011 and decided to open a distillery. How did that go down? 

A: On an evening of the summer of 2011 my mother and I were around a fire discussing the future. I shared with her my plans of selling the shares I owned in a microbrewery in which I was involved at the time. I told her that I had an interest in opening a distillery, and I shared my vision of it. My mother did not hesitate and told me she’d like to be part of that venture. That was the start of what materialized one year later: Distillerie Fils du Roy.

Q: Can you describe what goes into making your products? 

Image: Submitted

Image: Submitted

A: First we grow or buy most of our ingredients as close as possible to the distillery. For our absinthe, we grow all the herbs required to produce this bitter spirit.

Secondly, the creation of the raw alcohol can be produced by fermenting malt or grain like corn. In our case we distill in a 3000-litre copper pot of beer (made without hops) that’s around 10% alcohol; the result is a ‘low wine‘ of around 20% alcohol. For the finishing, we use a smaller alembic of around 300 to 500 litres. We found we have a better control on the quality with a small alembic.

Aromatic spirits, for a product like gin and absinthe, we need to macerate the botanics in the alcohol and then re-distill and carefully cut ‘’la tête’’ (the head), ‘’le Coeur ‘’(the heart) and ‘’la queue’’ (the tail) of the distillate. Only the “heart” ends up on the shelves.

For aged products like rum and whisky, they need to have a long ‘conversation’ with wood barrels. I’m ‘’le Maître de Chai’’ (the master of the cellar) and decide whether to use a new or used barrel. In the case of a used barrel, what was in the barrel previously makes a big difference: bourbon; sherry; wine, etc.

Check out all Distillerie Fils du Roy products here.

Q: We hear you use Crosby’s Molasses and NB maple syrup. Can you tell us about that?

A: We are trying to use as many products as possible from our region. We use molasses for the production of rum. We buy it from a molasses merchant who’s been in our province for 118 years, the Crosby’s Molasses Company.

We also use maple syrup to produce our ‘’Eau d’Août’’ – ‘water’ of August. Each year we produce a very small quantity – less than 400 bottles of the spirits only sold in the month of August. We have six oak barrels of Eau d’Août and we take a small portion of each barrel, to do the year’s batch. Then we prepare new Eau d’Août that we colour lightly with dark maple syrup. We fill up our barrel again and let it sit for a year. We refer to those spirits as a “malt spirit”, because as it is not aged three years, we cannot call it whisky.

We write the number on the bottles by hand, and the total number of bottles for a given year.

Q: How does Distillerie Fils du Roy distinguish itself in New Brunswick’s growing microbrewery/distillery scene?

A: We try to use original and creative recipes. Some of these recipes date back to the 19th century and our copper pots are made in Portugal the very same way they were made hundreds of years ago.

Q: What’s next for Distillerie Fils du Roy?

We are working on a single malt gin, made from alcohol exclusively produced from malted barley. The distillation is using copper pot stills, all from a single distillery. Combining the botanics and knowledge of gin production, this provides complex and tasty spirits.

We are also working on un-aged malt spirits also known in other countries as white whisky. In Canada, white whisky needs to age 3 years and after that we need to filter the colour and taste which come develop during the aging process. This is the reason why we do not see a lot of white whisky in Canada or Canadian white rum.

Q: Where can people get their hands on your products? 

We have a small boutique at our facilities at 599 Chemin Principal in Petit-Paquetville, New Brunswick. We can also be found in the NB Liquor stores and the absinthe, our gin and vodka can be found at the SAQ in Québec.

We know what we’re drinking this weekend.