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Absintherie des Cantons: Excellence from the field to the bottle

L’absintherie des Cantons : L’excellence du champ à la bouteille

Turning left on Moeller Street, in the heart of the industrial district of Granby, you would not suspect that you would come across a little gem of Quebec's agri-food and artisanal scene.

However, like a Gallic village in the middle of this industrial sector, it is here that we find the Absintherie des Cantons .

It is in this welcoming artisanal and family distillery, the only one in Quebec specialized in the production of absinthe, that you can find the best absinthes in the world.

Overview of a local company that makes premium quality alcohols and spirits from the field to the bottle.

Fleur Bleue absinthe from Absintherie des Cantons, winner of the Best Absinthe prize at the World Drink Awards

A great adventure, from the Route de l’Absinthe to Granby

At the dawn of his twenties, after spending a few years producing and organizing music tours and shows, Jean-Philippe Doyon became interested in the legalization of absinthe in France and Switzerland, where the latter was prohibited for almost a century.

Inspired by the myth, the aura and the fascinating history surrounding this “artists’ drink”, Jean-Philippe acquired a first bottle of traditional absinthe. It was at this moment that he realized that behind this alcohol lies a great intellectual complexity, necessary to create a balanced and quality product.

Eager to develop his passion and better understand the absinthe manufacturing process, Jean-Philippe earned a study grant which took him straight to the Absinthe Route in Europe.

After visiting around fifteen distilleries (including some still clandestine!) from the French Jura to Val-de-Travers in Switzerland, the young entrepreneur was able to discover the extent of the know-how behind the cultivation and distillation of absinthe, which has been passed down from generation to generation.

The creation of Absintherie des Cantons

Upon his return to Quebec, Jean-Philippe was convinced: he wanted to create his own absinthe distillery. His goal ? Create a rooted, family distillery, faithful to the Quebec terroir and representative of the Eastern Townships region.

After a few years setting up the business and planting absinthe and other aromatics in Roxton Pond, it was in 2017 that Jean-Philippe and his parents and business partners Michel and Claudette unveiled their first 3 alcohols under the name of Absintherie des Cantons: Fleur Bleue absinthe , Joual Vert green absinthe and the Wendigo sea buckthorn gin .

Five years later, in 2022, the Granby distillery was highly rewarded during the World Drinks Awards competition in London. La Fleur Bleue and Joual Vert respectively won the 1st and 2 nd places in the category of the best absinthes in the world.

A real pride for this family business, and for the Quebec agri-food scene!

Products from Absintherie des Cantons

The importance of traditional absinthe production

But what makes the absinthes and other spirits from Absintherie des Cantons such high quality?

Jean-Philippe, Claudette and Michel insist that the secret lies entirely in the production method. By opting for traditional and artisanal production from field to bottle, it is possible for producers to have great control over the quality of the plants, essential for creating alcohols with complex and balanced aromas and flavors.

More specifically, the traditional method of making absinthe involves macerating the plants in a neutral alcohol before distillation. To produce green absinthe, a second maceration must be carried out following distillation. This helps extract chlorophyll from plants to give the alcohol a natural green color.

Thus, an absinthe produced according to the traditional method is free of any added sugar, artificial colors and flavors. In addition, it is always produced in small batches to ensure better quality control.

Joual Vert green absinthe from Absintherie des Cantons

When regulations affect success

You would think that after having stood out so much internationally by winning several prizes at the World Drinks Awards, Absintherie des Cantons would no longer have any obstacles to its success.

However, although their reputation is well established, the company faces a number of challenges that prevent them from growing at the rate they would like.

Indeed, Jean-Philippe, Michel and Claudette regret not being able to develop an interesting agrotourism offer. At the time of writing this article, the surcharges required by the SAQ relating to direct sales at the distillery amount to 52%, which is the same as purchasing the product from the SAQ. Thus, hiring an employee who would be responsible for presenting the company and the products to curious agrotourists would not be profitable at all.

This problem also means that small Quebec spirits producers risk dying to make way for industrial competitors. This would have direct repercussions not only on the consumer, who finds themselves with an offering of lower quality products, but also on tourist regions, which could greatly benefit from a flow of agrotourists.

The Quebec Union of Microdistilleries continues to campaign with the government so that local microdistilleries can sell their products in their stores without mark-up, as is the case for other alcohol producers in Quebec.

Despite these difficulties, Granby's family is hopeful that things can change. To be continued !

A visit to the Absintherie des Cantons

Since the development of an agrotourism offer currently presents challenges, Absintherie des Cantons has turned to another solution. It is now one of three stops on our “ Discover Granby and its region – The alcohol tour ” excursion.

During the visit, agrotourists will discover the facilities of the Absintherie des Cantons as well as their distillation processes. They will also learn more about the history of absinthe, this mysterious plant, as well as the history of absinthery itself.

The visit ends with a tasting of their delicious products, including Fleur Bleue, the best absinthe in the world!

An experience not to be missed if you are a lover of high quality alcohols and spirits and to encourage a local company that works hard to promote our beautiful terroir!

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