Nestled just north of Ontario’s Northwestern mountains - and across the harbor from the famous Sleeping Giant - sits a unique food business that is one of the newest additions to the Flanagan Market.
What makes Frape and Sons unique is that, to owner Justin Frape’s knowledge, it is the only excise-exempt craft distillery in Canada. The distillery dedicatedly produces craft cocktail bitters for domestic and international markets.
Equipped with brewing and distillation equipment from the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee, Frape and Sons makes batches of no more than 500 bottles at a time using ingredients local to the province of Ontario.
Mr. Frape, Chief Executive and Head Distiller, has been an avid fan of craft spirits for many years, but a nudge from his lawyer (of all people!) opened up his mind to the possibility of producing distilled spirits using local ingredients.
In the fall of 2014, Justin decided to make the jump and purchased an all-copp
er column reflux still from a coppersmith in Ballard County, Kentucky and grain mashing and brewing equipment was sourced from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Frape and Sons was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada when the first distilled spirit base started pouring into a finishing jug on the evening of May 3rd, 2015 in the presence of Justin, his wife Katherine, and a very curious neighbor who had been following the progression of the distillery.
Frape & Sons are distillers of craft cocktail bitters. Be careful to make the distinction, here; there are many formulators of bitters, who purchase bulk ethanol and steep botanicals and spices in the alcohol base. Frape and Sons are bitters distillers; they make their alcohol bases by hand with molasses from Ontario sugar refineries, local fruit and local grains. A hundred gallons of distiller's beer, which is the input for the still, will net them between five and eight gallons of alcohol base. It is relatively neutral following distillation, but it could hardly be described as smooth; they prefer single pass distillations for the character that they impart to the bitters.
What is unusual about Frape & Sons compared to many bitters producers is that they don’t use neutral spirits in their formulations; the alcohol bases play as much a role in the flavours as the botanicals. The resulting bitters have been described as a little boozy - but not overpoweringly so - with a very clean finish.
Frape & Sons bitters have broad culinary and beverage applications, and features botanicals from the boreal forests of northwestern Ontario, the fruits of food producers from the city of Thunder Bay, and water from Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
Purchase boutique bitters from Frape & Sons:
Find their products on Flanagan Market, Flanagan's e-commerce platform connecting you directly to local Ontario producers and more than 600 Ontario items.