This is Geoff Dillon, owner and distiller of Dillon’s distillery in Niagara, Ontario.
Geoff studied biology and economics at university. He wanted to follow his father’s steps, a renowned scientist who won many awards with his work in environment research. Geoff got his double major and worked in finance for a while, but deep down he always wanted to be a distiller. His father, who is a very strong inspiration for him, has been collecting whiskies for decades and has a very impressive home collection. Geoff’s passion for spirits stemmed from the many visits to his father’s cabinet, where they would taste and compare whiskies together. Eventually, Geoff decided to leave his job in finance and start his own distillery, and that’s when Dillon’s Distillery was born.
Dillon’s opened in 2012. It was the first micro-distillery in Ontario and they have been producing from grain to bottle from the very beginning. The distillery is located in Niagara, a beautiful and very fertile region, well known for its delicious wines and fruits. When Geoff was looking for the location of his new project, he was thinking about the Distillery district in Toronto when a friend made him visit Niagara’s region. He knew instantly that he had found the perfect place.
Dillon’s has a very extensive line of products. They make rye whiskies, gins, Cuban rums, bitters, fruit liqueurs, schnappses, vermouth, amaro, aperitivo, and more. They are obsessed with quality and use the very best ingredients to make all of their products. They grow various herbs and fruits on the property and work in partnership with renowned producers from their region for everything else.
Above all, Dillon’s is a distillery that stemmed from passion and that was the precursor to a whole movement in Ontario. They had to face many rules and challenges that made it almost impossible for smaller businesses to distill in Ontario almost 10 years ago. Opening the very first micro-distillery of the province, Geoff’s work has highly contributed to pave the way to the micro-distillery movement. If his distillery and products are now well established and renowned, there is still a lot of work to be done. For instance, there is still no official recognition of grain to bottle distilleries in Ontario, which is something he’s been pushing for since the very beginning.
Overall, if you have a chance to visit this beautiful region, we highly suggest you stop for a visit at Dillon’s distillery. They have a very unique selection of products that directly reflect their terroir. We learned about a hail season that devastated a producer’s peach production, which turned into Dillon’s first schnapps. We learned about a fifth-generation women owned cherry farm whose fruits are used to make their award-winning cherry gin. And we could go on for a long time. Going through the tasting was like visiting the whole region bottle by bottle, something very few distillers can be that proud to say.