Whisky Magazine Issue 123
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Duck island and the 66 Gilead Distillery
Davin: Chicken Skin Music jangles from the speakers; the cruise control is set at 89 – urban legend has it the cops won't pull you over ‘til you're ten over the limit. I'm in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, heading into Genuine Whisky Territory. A Tyendinaga boy himself, Harry Hatch was a big-time whisky baron back in Prohibition days.
There's a Highway to the Heavens rising ahead. Crossing an arm of the Bay of Quinte, the road flows onto a bridge that seems to go up until it disappears in mid-air. It's a fitting gateway to the enchanted land beyond: Canada's artisanal, epicurean epicenter, Portlandia by the Quinte, better known as Prince Edward County.
In Hatch's day, a flotilla of Lake Ontario fishermen-turned-rumrunners knew every inch of this shoreline here and across the lake on the US side. This ‘navy's' exploits are the stuff of local legend and community theatre. Duck Island, just outside the US border, was the rumrunner's halfway hideout. Wrong label, though. It was whisky, Canadian rye whisky, that Hatch's nocturnal navy ferried across the lake. Now, 66 Gilead distillery has revived the Duck Island name. Their Duck Island rum – yes, real rum this time – is as buttery and as fruity as a rum and raisin candy bar. An instant favourite, like nearly everything that comes out of ‘The County's' only distillery.
We're here for the launch of their latest whisky creation, Crimson Rye. A pre-release barrel sample tells me it's good stuff, a delectable new w...