The music and whisky worlds have been inching ever closer to one another in recent years. There are celebrity-endorsed brands like Virginia Black (Drake), Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan), and Old Camp (Florida Georgia Line). Metallica-backed Blackened takes the marriage even further, using the band’s music to create a proprietary “sonic enhancement” process that supposedly impacts the whiskey’s final flavor.
For Danny Keyes and Jenna Miles, a joint love of music and spirits has resulted in a combined retail experience in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Their SRCVinyl began in 2009 as an internet radio station and then an e-commerce operation, selling vinyl records. The pair licensed and produced records for the likes of Blink 182, Silverchair, and Sum 41, opening a brick-and-mortar store in 2013. “Vinyl took off, more than we ever thought it would,” Keyes says. “Then we said, ‘What else do we want to do in our spare time?’ It was make rum and whiskey.”
Keyes and Miles began planning a distillery as soon as they opened the first storefront, moving to a larger location in 2016, where they began to build the hybrid space. The dream culminated in the grand opening of a tasting room for Limited Distilling in October 2019, where patrons can sample spirits and browse records simultaneously. Half of the 9,000-square-foot building is used for distillery production, while the other half contains offices and the dual retail space. “It’s definitely a combined feel,” Keyes says. “It’s like going into a shanty record store, surrounded by spirits, cocktails, accessories, obviously a bar. It’s definitely unique.”
The tasting room offers a variety of spirits, including pumpkin-spiced rum, jalapeño moonshine, and single malt whisky. While Keyes is a self-taught whisky-maker, Miles is in her final year of the United Kingdom’s Institute of Brewing and Distilling diploma in distilling program and anticipates entering its Master Distiller program in September 2020.
Limited Distilling’s emphasis is on experimentation and variety; Keyes prefers a carousel of spirits to a consistent core lineup. “We really want it to be more like the craft beer industry, where every couple of weeks you come in and we’ll have five new products,” he says. Although Keyes himself is a big bourbon drinker, he hopes to create more whiskies using barley.
Since opening Limited Distilling to the public, Keyes says customers often don’t think of the two storefronts as one, but he’s working to create a seamless connection between the two sides of the business. “Some people that come in for records, I serve them spirits, then I see them every two weeks. One week they’re into spirits, the next week they’re into records,” he says. “There’s some people who come in specifically for spirits and they end up leaving with both spirits and records.”
Just as whisky and vinyl share a physical retail space, Keyes says they offer similar recreational experiences. “Enjoy whisky with the people you love and hang out with,” Keyes says. “The same [exists] with vinyl, I think.”