ARTHUR – What started as a simple ‘what if?’ has turned one Arthur couple into the owners of an award-winning distillery.
Located along the edge of town, Silver Fox Distillery offers a variety of flavoured moonshines (butterscotch has proven quie popular), White Lightning or Dragon’s Breath. They also make vodka and are developing a flavoured liqueur.
“We are very much into flavour designs and profiles,” says Silver Fox owner and master distiller Mark Townsend. “The day we opened our store we already had a recipe book of almost 60 different recipes.”
The idea of running a distillery came from watching an episode of ‘Moonshiners’ on the Discovery Channel one night with his wife Lisa.
Over the next 13 months they developed a business plan and model, which went out the window when the pandemic set in.
Like other distilleries, Townsend says they switched to making hand sanitizer for frontline and healthcare workers, bumping up their operations from their ‘Year 1’ plan to the ‘Year 3’ plan.
“For two weeks we made booze, and then for three months we made sanitizer,” says Townsend.
“We were doing 18 hour days for two months straight just to keep up … We’re just catching up now [with everything].”
Besides showcasing all of their quirky flavours, the Silver Fox Distillery storefront has a distinct look, with a variety of props associated with the British television show, Dr. Who, and other references to various movies within pop culture, scattered throughout the space.
Residents can tour the back of the distillery to learn about how their alcohol is processed and made. According to Townsend, who designed the distilling process, they walked through the space after installing the machines, to understand how the customers would experience it.
“Very few distilleries are designed with the customer’s experience in mind. That is a very big part of what we do, you know? Creating the experience for the customer.” says Townsend.
“Which is why when they walk through here ... they’ll be able to get to hold certain things and look at it, and they’ll be able to get to taste things as they go.”
Although they want everyone to enjoy themselves at Silver Fox, Townsend says taste is their first and foremost concern, which is why their moonshine isn’t made the traditional way.
“It’s a blend of three different grains, which is more complex.” says Townsend, “To do just a straight moonshine, it would be a whole lot less work, but we’re not into that.”
When it comes to producing their alcohol, all their ingredients are all gathered within a 20km radius of the distillery.
“We try to get everything as local as possible,” says Townsend.
Although they have only been open for less than a year, they have already received awards for two of their moonshine flavours, ‘Sugar Shack Maple’ and ‘4 Peppercorns,’ from the U.S. Whiskey Distillery Competition.
“We have a huge amount of repeat customers, which is something that tells us we’re doing something right.” says Townsend, “[To be] Winning awards already in our first year, it’s amazing.”
“We’re pretty proud of what we do.”
Currently, these distinctly flavoured moonshines can only be found at their distillery, but Townsend says some of their products will be coming to LCBO store shelves.
“Our first application is for our moonshine and our second application is for our vodka.” says Townsend. Until then, the Silver Fox will continue to experiment with moonshine flavours.