Since its founding in 2014, Distillerie Mariana has climbed to the highest (tree)tops. After taking the reins from founders Jean-Philippe Roussy and Jonathan Couturier in 2019.
Originally from the Gaspé Peninsula, Philippe spent seven years in international business before finding his calling at the distillery. He initially collaborated with Mariana to distribute its products outside Canada, but the project quickly took a different turn. “As we got to talking, the founders mentioned they were thinking of selling. I saw it as a great opportunity that would bring me back home full time,” he explains.
Today, the distillery employs some ten people. Though he wasn’t a trained distiller, Philippe Leblanc channelled his energy into honing his expertise.
Barrels and barrels of projects
In 2022, the distillery will be leaving its original home in Louiseville for a new location. On site, there will be a whisky aging room with tastings of eaux de vie made from local grains, including corn, rye and malt, directly from the casks. “We needed more space, and we wanted the move to enable us to offer patrons an experience,” says Philippe.
Barreled in 2016 and 2017, the distillery’s first two whiskies will be served exclusively at tastings and sold in the new retail space. Philippe confirms that his next whiskies, which should be appearing on SAQ shelves in 2025, will be worth the wait!
Distillerie Mariana defines itself as off the beaten track and believes in constant innovation that still remains true to its roots. By adding its own unconventional touch, Mariana revisits classic spirits to give each product its own unique character.
Here are a few of Distillerie Mariana’s new twists on old traditions.
Violette gin was developed expressly to be mixed. Very aromatic, it becomes the star of any cocktail. Philippe explains: “From an organoleptic perspective, there’s a lot going on. Cocktails are often made with syrups or citrus, and the taste of the gin can fade into the background. That’s why we created Violette.” The spirit has a rich and grand bouquet of juniper berries, wildflowers, grapefruit and cardamom. For Philippe, Violette gin is at its best when blended with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a splash of soda and a lot of ice. “The cocktail really brings out the gin’s taste with every sip,” he affirms.
Avril—a remixed version of the Italian almond liqueur—is the distillery’s darling and rebel. Developed in collaboration with Spiritueux Iberville, Avril amaretto has aromas of coconut and coffee with a touch of maple and sweet gale that make it the most unique Québécois-Italian amaretto out there!
Is there anything more typical of the Belle Province than sucre à la crème? This cream of sucre à la crème is a tribute to our local traditions. Its creators were even so bold as to say their recipe is better than your grandmother’s right on the label, which is also an homage to Québec’s terroir. Mix it with coffee, try it on ice or shake it up in a rhumtini!
Loop Lime and Ginger gin
This gin’s lime and ginger flavours stem from an ingenious collaboration with Loop Mission, which fights food waste by repurposing food industry outcasts into delicious juices. Distillerie Mariana collects the gingerroot and lime peels after they’re juiced to infuse its gin, which is made from fermented and distilled potato scraps. Corn-derived alcohol and juniper berries are added to augment the earthy base and balance out the aromas. Quite unorthodox and quite ecological!