Canadian Craft Distillers Initiate Grassroots Campaign to Build Resilience, Strengthen Local Economies and Lift Canada’s Spirits

August 17, 2021

Ottawa, ON – August 17, 2021 – Canada’s craft distilleries are at a severe disadvantage to their domestic and international counterparts, putting in jeopardy the very kinds of gathering places and economic drivers Canadian communities need following the pandemic.

The federal excise tax on the production of spirits in Canada is far too high for craft distilleries operating in Canada to be competitive, invest in their communities and be resilient enough to recover from this pandemic.

Lift Canada’s Spirits (LCS) is a coalition of small to large distilleries aimed at Lifting Canada’s Spirits by reducing the excise tax on the first small annual volume of spirits produced to be more in-line with domestic, craft beer production and with the small distilleries in the U.S.

Distilleries in the U.S. campaigned for tax improvements and got them, which has led to a massive increase in their production of spirits.

“Reducing the excise to bn on par with the U.S. would mean more job creation as well as numerous other economic benefits for the communities surrounding the now more than 200 distilleries across Canada, including our own right here in the Okanagan,” says Tyler Dyck, Lift Canada’s Spirits spokesperson, President of the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C., and CEO of Okanagan Spirits Craft Distilleries. “The U.S. recently reduced their excise tax on spirits and the economic gains all parts of their economy experienced as a result are too large to ignore. We pay seven times more in excise than they do, so you can see how that is pretty stifling on small distillers here at home.”

Craft distillers currently pay $3.81 per 750ml, while craft beer makers pay $0.02 per 750ml. Canadian small brewers have a tiered excise tax structure that small distillers are seeking; the stunning expansion of small brewers across the country is evidence of its effectiveness.

There are approximately 225 craft distilleries in Canada, from coast to coast to coast. Like small breweries and wineries, they focus on using local fruits, grains and other produce found in the immediate area to craft something unique. They are both value-added local producers, as well as Canadian agri-tourism champions representing their local communities and Canada through their authentic farm-to-flask production.

It is anticipated that setting the excise tax to a less punitive level for small distillers would allow them to re-invest, leading to both higher local employment and larger demand for local agricultural products used to make their spirits. It sends the right signal to those who wish to grow, giving them the tools to be able to aspire to something bigger that will have major positive impacts on job creation in their neighbourhoods.

“With all the talk of building resiliency among small businesses to bring communities like my own through this pandemic, this punishingly high Canadian excise tax feels like I’m being asked to juggle with my hands tied behind my back, “says Meredith Schmidt, Co-Founder of Last Mountain Distillery in Lumsden, Sask. “We are asking for your help to Lift Canada’s Spirits by reducing the excise tax leaving more revenue in the hands of Canada’s distillers. Sign the petition. Talk to federal candidates in your riding and let them know we can do a lot better by simply extending the same sort of treatment to small distillers as they do to craft brewers and local wineries.”

Visit to sign the petition, to get more information or to get involved in the campaign. Follow LCS’s social accounts at the following: Facebook: @liftcdnspirits;
Twitter: @liftcdnspirits; Instagram: @liftcdnspirits.


For media inquiries and for more information, contact:

Toban Dyck
Lift Canada’s Spirits