Hearst’s Rheault Distillery Makes the Move to Thunder Bay

Story and photo by Matt Prokopchuk

A northern Ontario distillery known for its vodka has the green light to move into a new space in Thunder Bay, and the owners say they’re going to be expanding what they offer.

Marcel Rheault and Mireille Morin co-own Rheault Distillery in Hearst, which produces Loon Vodka, along with whisky and liqueurs. The two will be operating out of a building on Court Street South that historically was used as an automotive garage, but has sat abandoned for years. They plan to turn the building into a space where they can create and serve a growing line of spirits, including a planned move into producing gin and cider. The process had been held up by a property zoning issue, but with that resolved earlier this year, Rheault says he’s excited to move forward.

“Being there, it’s going to be easier for us to bring the product to the people,” he says, noting that Thunder Bay gives them more access—COVID-willing—to broader tourism markets. Even in Hearst, however, Morin says that the distillery was a hit with people from outside of Northwestern Ontario. “In Hearst, we get people from all over the place, […] from other countries, even, just to come visit the distillery,” she says. “It’s mind-boggling, so imagine if it would be situated in Thunder Bay.”

The building the distillery will move into still needs a lot of work but, with its wood construction, it can be turned into a very inviting space, Rheault says, adding that they’ll be bringing all of their existing distilling equipment down from their Hearst facility. He says that their new location will feature not only the production space, but also a tasting room, bar, and room for functions like small weddings. “There’s […] big trusses, it’s all been made out of wood,” Rheault says of the space. “It’s so beautiful, so that’s what we want to come out with. […] It’s really going to look like a saloon, kind of a rustic look there.”

Morin says that they plan to open their new location in Thunder Bay in early October.

You can visit Rheault Distillery’s website at rheaultdistillery.ca and follow them on Facebook @rheaultdistillery.