New Brunswick craft alcohol producer wins national tourism award

Petit-Paquetville’s Distillerie Fils du Roy won a community outreach award at the 2018 Canadian Tourism Awards.

Fils du Roy distillery on Acadian Peninsula honored for 'outstanding' contribution to community

Sebastien Roy, the owner of the distillery, said he didn't expect to win the award and didn't prepare a speech. (Fils du Roy)

A New Brunswick craft alcohol producer has won a national tourism award at a ceremony in Gatineau.

Petit-Paquetville's Distillerie Fils du Roy won a community outreach award at the 2018 Canadian Tourism Awards.

According to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada the award is "presented to the tourism business or organization that makes the year's most outstanding contribution to develop, build and enhance social conditions in their community."

Sebastien Roy, the owner of the distillery, said he didn't expect to win the award.

"I was travelling in Gatineau really to be part of that event but just to observe," said Roy.

"In my heart, for me, it was not me that would win that prestigious prize."

Major competition

Roy says his next project is to use more New Brunswick-grown grain at the distillery (CBC)

Fils du Roy faced stiff competition from some of the tourism industry's biggest names, the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto and the Fairmont Banff Springs.

"When you see Banff and you see that big hotel … I didn't feel like I was at their level," Roy said.

"But the judge decided that it was us so we were very happy all the team."

Roy said he hadn't prepared an acceptance speech so he spoke off the cuff about how happy he was to win, especially being from small-town New Brunswick.

"I spoke about how … happy I was that in Canada, even if you're from a very small business, in a very small village, in a very pretty but small province, it's possible to to think big," said Roy.

"A lot of people, during the evening after that, came to see me and to share with me that they came from a very rural region, and that it's important … that visitors go."

Giving back 

Roy said the company tries to give back to the community as much as it can in different ways, from getting local artists to create artwork for the distillery to giving leftover grain to local farmers for their cattle.

"We try to to do a lot of partnership with local businesses from Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, here in the Acadian Peninsula, different type of partnerships," said Roy.

The distillery sees up to 350 to 400 visitors a day during the summer, so it brings a lot of people to the area.

Fils du Roy continues to rack up national and international awards. Now the distillery can add a national tourism award to the list. Owner Sebastien Roy said his team received it for their commitment to local employment and resourcing. 7:29

The population of Paquetville is 720.

Roy hopes his next project will also help the community. He wants to start using local grain in his distillery, which now brings in almost all of its barley from the West.

"I travel across New Brunswick and I see all those [fields] empty, doing nothing," he said. "We will invest in a facility that will transform New Brunswick cereal into malt. 

"We see a lot of potential in local barley. Out west, it's very very warm, here we still have some rain, so we we believe we can compete in quality with the barley made out west."

With files from Shift