JUNCTION 56 DISTILLERY

  Award Winning Premium Artisanal Spirits 

Our Story

Junction 56 is dedicated to make the highest quality products with local ingredients.  

We are also committed to challenging traditional perceptions and pushing the boundaries of innovation in all spirit categories. 

If it's not broken, don't fix it may be an old adage, but we prefer to think that while not broken, spirits as we have known them can certainly be improved upon.  And that's what we are attempting to do with the spirits we make.   We leverage tried and tested techniques as the basis,  then add our own unique methods to deliver a fresh twist on traditional spirits. 

We also take pride in introducing new and unfamiliar products to the Canadian marketplace, again putting our own spin on them.  

An idea is born

A few years ago, Mike was at a whisky tasting not far from where the distillery is today.  The idea to make a barrel of whiskey was formed after numerous whiskey samples.  Several years of research morphed this into the idea to start a craft distillery and not only make that barrel of whisky but many other products and many barrels.  Best whisky tasting ever!

What's in a name

Naming a distillery isn't easy.  A lot of thought and debate went into what the distillery should be called.  The thought was to land on a name that is a tribute to the local area as our products are also intensely local.  
We looked to the location and history of the building that houses the distillery as inspiration.   
The building that houses the distillery is 15 feet from one set of railway tracks, and a block from another, and the junction of the two tracks is about 2 blocks away.
 And, it was in 1856 that these two major railway tracks came to what is now Stratford, and the city grew around the railway industry.     
It seemed natural to draw our name from this connection to our past, hence the name Junction 56.

Construction 

Construction in the distillery began in January 2015.
The building had been home to a family run hardware store for over 100 years.  Converting the building into a distillery took a lot of renovations and upgrades, but we were able to keep many of the great old features.  
The construction process took the better part of 6 months to complete and resulted in what you see today.

The first run

The first batch made in the distillery was done on July 1, 2015 (that is right....Canada Day).  It was a vodka run and we would be lying if we said it all went smoothly.  The run finished in the neighbourhood of 4:30am on July 2nd.  Today our process is locked down and the same run is about a 7 hour process.

And we're open!

We got our license to sell alcohol on September 4, 2015 and celebrated in style with our grand opening on September 10.  As they say the rest is history.

Who we are

The people are what makes the place

Mike Heisz

Owner / Distiller / Janitor when necessary

Mike was born and raised on Southwestern Ontario and has a strong connection to the local communities.  He understands the pride in homegrown products and is excited to start offering locally made liquor options within the area.

Being tied closely with the history of the area and the traditions therein is very important to Mike.  Junction 56 is focused on adding additional benefits to the larger community and becoming a partner with other businesses in the area

Mike has an engineering background as well as experience working in a brewery which he plans to use to produce innovative products.  While having the standard fairs, Whiskey, Gin, Vodka, Mike is also interested in working with local partners and customers to create unique and personalized spirits. 

James Donnelly

General Manager / Distiller / Whatever else needs to happen

James was raised on a farm in southwestern Ontario (Pinkerton to be exact).  He worked with Mike at the Formosa Brewery just after high school and they learned there that they were a good team when working together.

Before joining Junction 56, James held several different roles at BlackBerry over a span of 15 years.  He credits that company with giving the opportunity to learn many different areas of a business which he can apply to his work at the distillery.  James joined Junction 56 in January of 2016 as the General Manager.

Leah McGuire

Retail Sales Manager
Leah joined the Junction 56 team in November of 2016 to primarily run the retail operation.  She also contributes with her many artistic skills.  If it looks good in here Leah likely made it.

Brian Leis

Production Associate
Brian Joined Junction 56 in September of 2016 and assists with production activities.  He spends most of his days on the front of our production process milling and mashing the grains that make the products that you love.