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Issue 146 - Rock 'n' roll and whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 146
September 2017

 

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Rock 'n' roll and whisky

A tour of Toronto's distilling district, revived along with a wave of heavy metal reunions

Did Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind cause the extinction of heavy metal? Asteroid ‘Kurt Cobain' may not have acted alone; heavy metal's final gasps for air were snuffed out by record companies with a fetish for bubblegum-flavoured hair bands. Until then, the top of the music food chain had been the domain of whisky bands; when the hair bands abandoned whisky for vodka, musical integrity collapsed. Toronto's Gooderham & Worts Distillery stopped making whisky in 1950. In a staff photo taken in 1990, when the distillery finally closed, workers surround a truck loaded with their final barrels of rum. One sole employee still sports a heavy metal haircut; the rest had given up.

But by 2013, heavy metal bands were reuniting and touring again, albeit to smaller audiences. Vodka was out and whisky was back centre stage. And back at Gooderham & Worts – now redeveloped as a tourist destination called ‘The Distillery District' – Mill Street Brewing and Distilling was laying down whisky on site again. Gone were the days of mass production though, replaced by small batch distillation in a city that had been waiting virtually the entire history of rock 'n' roll for whisky makers to return to The District.

Mill Street Brewing & Distilling Your Toronto distillery tour begins at the corner of King Street East and Trinity. As a man of faith, William Gooderham said hells bells to the notion that people must pay pew fees. So, in 1842, he built this pretty, red brick, Gothic Revival-styl...

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