Quebec's distillers can now sell their products on-site

The Quebec-made spirits producers can now operate their own retail locations, instead of only selling through the province's liquor board, the SAQ.

Good news for industry as government acknowledges years of steady growth

Quebec distillery industry getting boost from government

6 years ago
Duration 0:30
Paul Cirka, the founder and master distiller at Cirka Distillery, welcomes government initiatives to help his growing industry.

The Quebec-made spirits market has been growing for years, and now it's getting even more of a boost with incentives from the government.

Gin, whisky and vodka makers in the province have been asking for years for the right to sell their products at their showcase distilleries, but they've been limited to SAQ retail outlets.

The government's now granted them permission to sell on their premises.

For Paul Cirka, the founder and master distiller at Cirka Distillery, that means he can finally get the most out of his distillery being so popular with tourists.

He says his distillery is a tourist attraction: it's listed in En Route magazine as one of the top 10 things to do in Montreal, and it also pops up in Google searches of things to do in the city.

"People would come, they would be delighted with the facility, the tour, and we would offer them a sample of the product," Cirka said.

"They would immediately go, 'Can I buy it?'" 

He would then need to refer people to the SAQ, but he says he doubted many would go out of their way to find a provincial liquor outlet near their hotel.

"When they leave the province, we want them to leave with one of our products," Cirka said.

Cirka Distillery is a popular tourist destination but until now, visitors would be sent to the SAQ if they wanted to take the product home. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Financial boost

On top of being able to have their own retail spaces, there was also a gift for distillers in Tuesday's budget.

Finance Minister Carlos Leitao announced Quebec's small-scale producers and distillers will get some financial assistance from the government.

According to budget documents, sales of Quebec-made spirits have increased by almost 30 per cent per year for the past six years.

As a financial incentive, Quebec is injecting $9.2 million to accelerate the development of the province's alcoholic beverage sector.

Not all the details of the financial assistance are available yet, but Cirka says at least this is a sign that the government is taking notice of how hard people in the burgeoning industry have been working.

With files from Sarah Leavitt