Our Story


Upper Canada in 1836 was turbulent. On the heels of the War of 1812, a revolt against the British government was heating up. In St. David’s, Ontario, the Sleeman family was contributing to the rebuilding of the community after it had been burned to the ground during the conflict. Along with the creation of a thriving brewery in 1834, the family created a distillery in 1836. While the brewery went on to great success the distillery ceased operations shortly after it was founded.

Now, 183 years later, the Sleemans are back in the distilling business with the launch of Spring Mill Distillery on the banks of the Speed River in Guelph, Ontario.


We built the new distillery with a sense of enduring spirit – never veering from our steadfast commitment to create premium spirits that will appeal to people who value the genuine expression of traditional methods and the highest-quality ingredients available.

The illustration you see on our packaging is of the original distillery as it existed in St. David’s. When you visit the new location in Guelph you might find some similarities. While there are no horse-drawn wagons hauling barrels, we still employ a time-honoured, simple approach to distilling. As well, we’ve built the operation in a restored mill and distillery which operated on this site in 1835.

We’ve taken great care to ensure that the new distillery honours the site and a very careful restoration project echoes with reminders of the great traditions of distilling. The column and pot stills we installed probably don’t differ greatly from those of the past and our coopers construct our barrels with the same techniques and care employed over a century ago. Read more about our approach to distilling here.

John Sleeman on Creating Legacies

“When we began the process of recreating a distillery 182 years after my forefathers operated one in Niagara, Ontario, many people wanted to know why I was taking on this new challenge. It’s a good question and one I thought about a lot. Put simply, I am driven by a desire to create legacies – for my family, for my team and for people who appreciate premium spirits. That’s what motivates all of us at Spring Mill Distillery. We want to create products that reflect our small-town values of honest effort, steadfast commitment, and enduring spirit. We take no short cuts at Spring Mill Distillery. Quite the opposite. Our processes involve a minimum of technological intervention, our equipment is manufactured by finest producers of distilling equipment and we spare no effort to ensure that what we produce is of the highest standard possible. That’s what drives me and that’s what will form the Spring Mill Distillery legacy. It is our enduring spirit.”

Illustration of the original distillery as it existed in St. David’s