Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundland Distillery rum named best in Canada

The Newfoundland Distillery Company has added another award to its trophy case, as the company’s chaga rum was named the best spiced rum in Canada at the World Rum Awards in London.

Rum also awarded silver medal at San Francisco World Spirit competition

Judges and tasters at the World Rum Awards selected the Newfoundland Distillery Company's chaga rum as Canada's best spiced rum. (The Newfoundland Distillery Company/Facebook)

The Newfoundland Distillery Company has added another award to its trophy case, as the company's chaga rum was named the best spiced rum in Canada at the World Rum Awards in London. 

Peter Wilkins, co-founder of the Clarke's Beach distillery, says the award is a special honour.

"I think it's a very big deal," he said.

"They don't give that many medals out, because some of the competitions, they give a lot of medals out, whereas there, we were the only rum that won an award for the whole of Canada."

Wilkins said the rum from Guyana is infused with chaga, a fungus that grows on birch trees, foraged from central Newfoundland.

"It's a bit like a mushroom, but more like a truffle and it grows on the bark and you can only harvest it in the winter when it's dormant," he said.

"It gives a bit of earthiness and richness to the rum … we've had to call it a spiced rum because if you have any flavourings in it, you've got to define it, so it's not really a spiced rum, it's more like a new dark rum."

Peter Wilkins, co-founder of the Newfoundland Distillery Company, poses with the company's vodka. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

But the award isn't the first accolade for the rum. Wilkins said the company's chaga rum and aquavit both won silver medals this year at the San Francisco World Spirit competition.

"That is the ultimate spirit competition," he said.

"We were thrilled that our aquavit and the chaga got a silver medal there because that's really the number one competition."

Wilkins said winning those sorts of awards generates interest in their products and makes all their work worthwhile.

"It does mean it's not just us saying 'we think it's great,' the real professionals and qualified tasters and judges have also deemed them to be exceptional spirits," he said.

Rebuilding after explosion

The awards come as the Newfoundland Distillery Company is still rebuilding from an explosion at the company's Clarke's Beach facility in November.

One employee was injured in the explosion, but Wilkins said he's made "a great and full recovery, and that's really the most important thing."

The stills and the back of the building were damaged, but Wilkins said they're rebuilding bigger and better, and will have a significantly increased capacity when the repairs are complete.

"We're now getting amazing new stills built especially for us, which will mean our stills will be probably be the best and finest in Canada," he said.

"This will be coming, we hope, very soon and then it will be put in a very smart, finished back of the building and all look absolutely amazing."

In the meantime, Wilkins said The Newfoundland Distillery Company's shop and tasting room are open and the company has started shipping its products around Canada, with hopes of reaching the United Kingdom soon.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM