Niagara College unveils plans for distilling program, teaching distillery

Artist's rendering of the future teaching distillery to be added to the Wine Visitor + Education Centre.

Artist's rendering of the future teaching distillery to be added to the Wine Visitor + Education Centre.

Niagara College is launching a brand new program sure to lift ‘spirits’ in Canada’s growing craft distillery scene.

The innovative college – which is already home to Canada’s first commercial teaching winery and teaching brewery at its trailblazing Canadian Food and Wine Institute – is now barrelling out Canada’s first college distilling program, Artisan Distilling. Scheduled to begin fall 2017, the one-year graduate certificate program will offer hands-on training and classroom work in practical distilling, distilling science, quantitative spirit analysis, and distillation management. The program will be supported by a new on-campus teaching distillery – also the first of its kind in Canada.

“The program is the next logical step for the College and the CFWI in becoming the key centre of excellence in fermentation sciences throughout Canada,” said dean of the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute Craig Youdale. “We will be the only learning environment to cover all three levels of alcohol production and education, and hope to lead the explosion of distillers the same as we have led the growth of brewing and wineries in our region and across Canada.”

With a growing number of distilleries nationwide, the launch of Niagara College’s distilling program is positive news for the industry. The program has been in development for more than two years, supported by many leading distillers from around the world.

“One of the greatest challenges of craft distilling has been the lack of educational resources for the modern distiller. This emerging industry has been desperately searching for somewhere to turn and I believe the new program from Niagara College will quickly become that place,” said Geoff Dillon, founder of the successful Beamsville-based Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery. “We are at the beginning of a great growth period in craft distilling that doesn’t show any signs of slowing. The industry needs direction, and after seeing what the Niagara College team has accomplished with their wine and beer programs, I am confident the distilling program will be one that will make the distilling world proud.”

“The launch of Niagara College’s distilling program is tremendous news for our nascent industry,” said Charles Benoit, president of the Ontario Craft Distillers Association. “With few peers anywhere, I expect the school will contribute mightily to making Ontario a global leader in distilling excellence, as well as a foundation for our local community to collaborate and grow. I look forward to all the wonderful times ahead.”

Artisan Distilling is designed to suit anyone with an interest in distillation who has already completed an Ontario diploma or degree – particularly those with a background in sciences, as well as culinary, business, food innovation, wine and beer programs. The program will also be a direct pathway for students from the College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management, Wine and Viticulture Technician, and Culinary Innovation and Food Technology programs; and prepare Brewmaster students for certificate and diploma programs offered by the England’s Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

The College will accept 20 students into the first term of the program and seats will open for admissions in February 2017.

The new 2,000-square-foot teaching distillery will become part of the existing Wine Visitor + Education Centre at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

Niagara College offers more than 100, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


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