History

For the past 150 years, Corby Spirit and Wine Limited has been at the forefront of the spirits and wine industry in Canada, building a portfolio of Canadian favourites and iconic international brands. Through it all, the company has evolved through constant innovation, while staying true to its Canadian roots. The history of Corby Spirit and Wine Limited begins in the early Ontario frontier when whisky was as much a part of daily life as bread and meat…

Our founder, Henry Corby, immigrates from the UK to Canada at age 26 and sets up a small food shop and bakery in Belleville, Ontario.

In 1837, Henry Corby sells his bakery and buys a St. Lawrence steamer where he gets involved in buying grain. Henry Corby becomes interested in the distilling process and he quickly starts making his own brand of whisky for local consumption as a sideline to the main milling operation. By 1859, the distillery operation is incorporated and equally important to Henry as the mill operations.

In 1881, Henry’s son, Henry Corby II, takes over the business. Under his direction, the Company begins to evolve. They bottle their own brand of whisky and sell it under the name of Corby. The quality whisky becomes more and more popular and new markets open. The Company also begins to diversify by importing Scotch whisky and wines.

Early in the decade, Corby established an office in Montréal. In October 1912, Henry Corby II is appointed to the Canadian Senate. War changes the business, and the distillery suspends normal operations to dedicate itself to the war effort, producing alcohol for munitions.

After the war ends, H. Corby Distillery is sold to the Canadian Industrial Alcohol Company Limited. This new organization purchases the assets of JP Wiser’s Distillery Limited of Prescott, Ontario, and moves its operations to Corbyville, Ontario.

Hiram Walker – Gooderham & Worts Ltd. acquires 51% of equity in Corby Distillery Limited. But, World War II forces the distillery once again to suspend normal operations in favour of producing alcohol for munitions.

While in Europe during World War II, Canadian troops had acquired new tastes for imported spirits and wines and in 1952, Corby signs a joint venture agreement with the United Rum Merchants of London, England, bringing the renowned Lamb’s family of rums to the Corbyville distillery site.

The Company changes its name to Corby Distilleries Limited – Les Distilleries Corby Limitée and is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Corby purchases Meagher’s Distillery Limited of Montréal and its subsidiary, the William Mara Company of Toronto. This acquisition expands the Company’s presence in the domestic liqueur market and, through William Mara, brings representation of international brands such as Beefeater gin, along with an enhanced wine portfolio.

Allied Lyons PLC successfully acquires 51% of Hiram Walker – Gooderham & Worts Ltd. shares, thereby becoming Corby’s majority shareholder.

Corby purchases the assets of McGuinness Distilling Co. Ltd. and acquires new brands such as Polar Ice vodka and the McGuinness range of mixable liqueurs.

The Corbyville distillery closes after 132 years and all maturing whisky inventory is transferred to the Hiram Walker facility in Windsor, Ontario.

The new millennium marked the beginning of a new era of growth and innovation for Corby. In 2005, Pernod Ricard S.A. becomes Corby’s majority shareholder. They both enter into long-term representation and production agreements, adding international market-leading brands such as Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet Scotch Whiskies and Jacob’s Creek wines. Corby also acquires the international rights to Lamb’s rum.

Corby adds the global powerhouse vodka brand ABSOLUT to its representation portfolio through an agreement with Pernod Ricard.

In November, Corby announces a new brand identity and changes its name to Corby Spirit and Wine Limited.

Corby acquires the spirits assets of Domaines Pinnacle Inc., comprised of the unique Ungava® Premium Canadian gin brand, Chic Choc® spiced rum, and a range of maple-based liqueurs including Coureur des Bois® and Cabot Trail®, as well as related production assets and inventory; operating as a new Corby subsidiary, Ungava Spirits Co. Ltd.

Corby acquires The Foreign Affair Winery, a Niagara, Ontario-based VQA wine producer.