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Ontario Spring Water Sake Company - coming to Distillery District Spring 2011

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I was in the Distillery District on the weekend for the Christmas market (pretty interesting event btw) and I saw a sign for "Ontario Spring Water Sake Company" with a phone number (416-365-SAKE) and an "Opening Spring 2011" on the top... I googled it just now and saw a posting on the Bar Towel as well as a link from there to Sweet's Escapes "tweet" of the sign that I saw:


Anyone have any details on what this is? From what I recall the space used to be a gallery. It is in the same laneway as the grocery store..

The Bartowel site has a google translated "employment" ad:


OH, wait, I just noticed the poster's name is a regular here on Chow.... Ha, I didn't see it posted up on here before. Greg did you end up finding out any other details on this?

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  1. Did you try calling the number in the ad? I bet you could find out whatever you want by calling it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodyDudey

      Well, I guess I could have done that but of course it is easier to post on here ;) I more posted this as a "heads up" as it does seem like something very unique!

    2. greg clow runs bartowel if i'm not mistaken.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        Actually, Cass Enright runs Bar Towel - I just help out with news and some forum admin stuff.

        As for the sake place, I haven't done any more investigation beyond what I did for the Bar Towel post.

      2. This is truly exciting, especially the fact that they are placing their help wanted ads in Japanese. I can't wait. I wonder if this will be a restaurant/brewpub thing, or just a brewing facility?

        1. Interesting. Can't wait to try some of their brews.

          3 Replies
            1. re: tjr

              Yeah, I am really interested to see who the Toji is and perhaps where they're getting their spring water/rice and how they're going to go about milling it. I hear decent things about Koji from SakeOne in Oregon so maybe that's a viable option if they're not getting it from Japan. (If you can get it from Japan) Or maybe they're making their own.

              Wouldn't it be great to go down to the distillery and get a nice Namazake free of bottle shock? I'm really excited about this place and I want for them to succeed in producing great Sake. I hope it all works out for them.

              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                That would be great; I am cautiously optimistic!

          1. I'm holding out for local shochu. Keeping expectations low. What troubles me is the deplorable location--sketchy neighbors, high rents, iffy access won't enhance their post-honeymoon survival.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kagemusha

              What's wrong with the Distillery? It's no less accessible by streetcar or foot than Ossington or all those other areas in the west end that are getting all the restaurant and bar love love lately. It can hardly be described as sketchy and the surrounding area is continuing to develop rapidly. The Mill Street brewpub is there and it seems to be booming, if the difficulty I have getting a seat at many unexpected days and times is any indication. And even though sake is brewed not distilled, I also think it makes for a nice closed historical loop to have an alcoholic beverage being created there again.

              1. re: Gary

                Well, I'm thinking that first off (and not speaking for Kagemusha) Sake is a tough sell in Toronto to begin with as most people are largely unfamiliar with anything other than the Sake we get at the LCBO which I wouldn't even use to cook with.

                It's accessibility largely depends on where you live in relation to it but I know for a fact that the shops in the Distillery rely on weekend business and tourists which drops drastically during the winter.

                There are other things that concern me about the location as well such as its proximity to the Gardiner Expressway. There are problems that could arise from having your brewery right next to an abundant source of exhaust fumes every day. Although there are ways to guard against harmful bacteria in the air.

              1. re: canmark

                Ah great! Thanks for that link. Well, one thing is for sure it looks like they should have deep enough pockets to last a while based on the owner...

                Sounds like he is trying to do something authentic vs. the grocery store sushi stuff he made his money on, will be interesting to see how it all unfolds!

                1. re: canmark

                  Interesting, just read this article again and overlooked that they are consulting with Masumi brewery which is a huge plus. Their Yumedono and their Arabashiri (nama) are both really great Sake. Chisato Kubota also found Kyokai No.7 (Yeast Strain) there which was responsible for helping to elevate Sake to what it is today.

                  1. Weird, it says that Gregclow posted in this thread today when I search for it, but, I don't see a post by him. Anyway, NegativeSleep mentioned in another thread that they are opening this Friday (linked to this press release as source: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/ar... )

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: ylsf

                        you can't post press releases word for word. you can only paraphrase.

                      2. Will be down there Saturday.Hoping for samples...Kampai!

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: haggisdragon

                            I'll be there in the afternoon and it's suppose to be a nice day also!

                            Also time to check out the other places there as well. :)

                          2. re: Kagemusha

                            Hoping to make it out on Saturday myself... maybe we'll all see each other there!

                          3. I emailed them, they're open from 11-7 tomorrow, maybe a little later depending on the crowd. Sake available both by the glass and bottle.

                            I'll be there.

                            1. Down there for a photo session Saturday. Hope to away and get some pix--and samples!

                              1. Ontario Spring Water Sake opened today, and I went by early this evening for a quick peek. I was given a detailed run-down on the differences between the four types of sake available for sale (each in several sizes, 300mL bottles go for $12 to $14). I bought a small bottle of the unpasteurized variety to take home, and had a small glass of the limited edition "first batch" variety ($4) at the very nice (but small) bar area. Very friendly service and the space is beautiful, as on par with the rest of the Distillery, with a glassed-in area showcasing the brewing apparatus. I think it's great to have this place nearby! But it's gonna cost me...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Gary

                                  I went in the afternoon on Friday, tried out a flight and bought a bottle of nama-nama. The most drinkable of the ones I tried. Saw a lot of folks working in the area pop in buying bottles.

                                  Some of them I wasn't a fan of, I can't lie. Still, very happy to see someone pushing the boundaries here. I wish them all the best, and will re-visit when I'm in the area.

                                  I snuck over to Mill St afterwards for a pint of whatever seasonal they had, ended up w/ a vanilla porter. Very sessionable.....

                                  1. re: Gary

                                    It's a smaller than anticipated space and not well-designed for the traffic they saw on Saturday. Nama-nama is nice. Production area looked dis-organized--early days...They weren't accepting US$, which was very frustrating for some potential customers. Let's see how things shake down.It's not exactly a knock-out, decor-wise.

                                  2. Here's my blog post:

                                    Toronto’s first sake brewery (appropriately located in the Distillery District) has hung its sugidama above the door, so I belly up to the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company‘s tasting bar on a sunny afternoon to see what they have to offer.

                                    I opt for the tasting flight, allowing me to try the Nama-nama, Demodori Musume (unpasteurized), and Teion Sakura (low-temperature, high koji ratio). We also try the Nama-cho and the Shiboritate (just-pressed sake). Luckily, I’m sharing the small cups with friends, so I avoid achieving the screaming-red “I’ve been drinking” face, while still being able to taste a broad range of sake.

                                    Of them all, my favourite is the Shiboritate. Lulled by its floral and velvety start, it kicks you in the mouth as it goes down. I was told that the taste will change from day-to-day since it’s a young press. Hopefully, it’ll be as good next time!

                                    Bottle size options are small and HUGE. They also offer salad dressing and sake kasu (the lees leftover from the sake production) for you to take home and use in your own recipes. A small selection of sake cups (even a few cedar masu too!) and bottles and other branded paraphernalia round-out the store. It’s a pretty small space for tasting (6 seats) but makes for a nice addition to the Distillery crawl.

                                    Note: my knowledge of sake is minimal. I just like drinking it.

                                    Blog post: http://www.foodpr0n.com/2011/05/17/to...
                                    Tasting menu prices are in the photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/5...

                                    Distillery District
                                    55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jlunar

                                      What does the "inc logo glass" on the menu menu? Does it mean if you order that you get to keep the glass??

                                      1. re: ylsf

                                        Yep! We opted not to do that though. Sort of like a souvenir, I guess.

                                      2. re: jlunar

                                        I had the chance to try their sakes at the LCBO tasting last night. I found some of them a little earthier than the others. It was pointed out that it is rare to find a namazake (unpasteurized sake) outside of Japan, so we are lucky to have a brewer so close by who makes one.