Sharon Ferchat, the President and CEO of Copperhead Distillery in Sundridge. Ferchat displays the company’s latest Signatures Series whiskey, the Iron Ring Edition, which is in honour of her dad. Rocco Frangione/Local Journalism Initiative Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative

Each year Copperhead Distillery in Sundridge celebrates its anniversary by creating a new Signature Series Canadian Whiskey.

And each year the family-run business is able to recognize a family member with a Signature Series and 2023 is no different.

Craig Ferchat’s love for whiskey was the catalyst in creating the company which started in the family garage in 2016 and then moved to its present site on Tower Road in Sundridge a year later because of growing demand for his product.

Sadly Ferchat never got to see how popular Copperhead Distillery would become because he suddenly passed away shortly after opening the new site.  However before dying, Copperhead Distillery put out a whiskey dedicated to Ferchat it released on his birthday, April 3rd. After his passing, April 3rd became the annual release date for every subsequent Signature Series.

Past Signature Series have recognized Craig Ferchat’s dad, the Ferchat’s four sons and last year the business itself was commemorated to mark its fifth anniversary. Craig Ferchat’s wife Sharon Ferchat, who is now Present and CEO of the company, was mulling over who to dedicate this year’s Signature Series. Ferchat said her sons suggested dedicating it to her dad.

Ferchat agreed and found the perfect way to honour her father, Frank Saunders, who is 93 and lives in a Don Mills retirement home with his wife.

“Dad was a civil engineer and graduated from Montreal’s McGill University in 1953,” Ferchat said. “The graduates received an iron ring made from the Pont du Quebec bridge that collapsed in 1907.” The bridge crossed the St. Lawrence River. Its collapse was due to design failure and Ferchat said the iron rings served as a reminder to future civil engineers to do their due diligence when working on projects so there wasn’t another incident like the bridge collapse.

Saunders was a civil engineer for 37 years and designed ports and bridges around the world and in Canada including the port on Manitoulin Island where the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry docks.
Ferchat said he still has his iron ring.

Coincidentally, iron is the object that marks a sixth anniversary and that gave Ferchat a way to honour her dad’s career by adding an iron theme to the latest Signature Series.

Robyn Tucker is Copperhead Distillery’s Marketing and Retail Sales Manager. Tucker designed a label that includes the image of a bridge added to the company’s traditional label that features a mountain lion. But Tucker went further.

The Signature Series is called the ‘Iron Ring Edition’ and Tucker designed the ‘o’ in ‘Iron’ to look like a ring.   She did the same thing with the cap label where o’s look like rings.

When Ferchat first told her dad what she was planning to do with this year’s Signature Series, “he was thrilled”.

“And he was impressed when I brought him a bottle,” Ferchat said.

Ferchat isn’t sure if her dad has opened the bottle yet.

“But he bought one for the head chef at the retirement home,” she said. “Their head chef follows us on Facebook.”

The whiskey was aged in American Oak for a year and yielded about 550 750 ml bottles.

The Iron Ring Edition, which sells for $80, comes in a wooden box and each bottle is numbered.

The latest Signatures Series has been out for just more than a month and Ferchat said public response has been good.

However, that’s not surprising given that each Signature Series sells out.

Ferchat isn’t personally a whiskey drinker, vodka is more her style. But she tried the latest batch and describes it as being very smooth and it’s “very nice with ice”.

As part of the sixth anniversary, Copperhead Distillery will again hold its annual customer appreciation day on the Saturday over the Labour Day weekend.

The event has live music and Ferchat expects classic car owners to once again showcase their vehicles.

Ferchat also uses the customer appreciation day as a fundraiser for area groups and charities.

Whatever is raised by the patrons, she matches.

In 2019 area flood victims shared $8,000 thanks to the efforts of Copperhead Distillery and last year several thousand dollars was directed to youth and sports activities from Sundridge to Huntsville.

Ferchat hasn’t decided yet where this year’s contribution will go.

Visitors to Copperhead Distillery will notice there is now a new covering for the wooden wagon outside the business after the old one became too raggedy. And by the May long weekend, the owner of the Pie O My Pizzeria in Sundridge will operate a new business outside the distillery next to the patio area called Tattie Shack.

By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative

Original Published on May 09, 2023 at 12:10

This item reprinted with permission from   North Bay Nugget   North Bay, Ontario
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