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Distillery project delayed but not defunct

A spring groundbreaking was the goal for the start of construction of the Artist in Residence distillery in Hawkesbury. The site plan and permitting approval process for the facility have pushed the anticipated start for project construction to autumn of this year. — photo Gregg Chamberlain
A spring groundbreaking was the goal for the start of construction of the Artist in Residence distillery in Hawkesbury. The site plan and permitting approval process for the facility have pushed the anticipated start for project construction to autumn of this year.
photo Gregg Chamberlain
It may take a bit longer than anticipated for the start of construction on a distillery project for Hawkesbury but Pierre Manthas hopes to have the official groundbreaking in autumn.

“I hope to put the shovel in in September,” Manthas said during a phone interview February 8 from the Gatineau office of the Artist in Residence distillery (AiR). “All the architect plans are all done.”

Last fall Manthas announced plans to building the second AiR distillery, in Hawkesbury. At the time he expected construction on the first phase of the facility to begin in spring 2021 but he admitted that he had made a mistake in thinking he would have all of the permits and site plan approvals done within a six-month period.

Meeting both the municipal requirements and provincial regulation demands for the site plan approval process means at least a year before construction can begin on AiR Hawkesbury distillery. Manthas noted that legal title to the Tupper Street property is secure and he hopes to have the permits situation finished by either June or July this year.

Phase One

Development of the AiR Hawkesbury distillery will span eight to 10 years and cost between $20 million to $25 million. Phase One involves construction of 30,000-square-foot building to house the main distillery operation.

The first two years of the development is focused on Phase One, getting the distillery operating and producing barrels of whisky and bottled gin and vodka for distribution throughout the Ontario market. Future plans include international sales.

“Then after that it will a (new) phase a year,” said Manthas.

Employment potential

The ultimate goal for the AiR Hawkesbury distillery is a combined commercial distillery that features an in-house restaurant, with a greenhouse attachment to provide fresh produce and herbs for the menu. Restaurant profits, Manthas stated in an earlier interview, will go to a special foundation set up to support local charities and community service projects in the Hawkesbury area.

Phase one of the project will mean six to 10 jobs at the distillery. As the facility expands the potential total employment could be 60 to 75 jobs.

Manthas also sees the facility becoming a commercial tourism attraction for the town.