In 1990 Mike and Carol Beamish planted 200 apple trees on their property in Warren Grove, PEI. At the time both were employed, and while retirement was yet to come, they were planning for the future. Every spring they would add a few more trees to the original 200 and in 1995—just five short years after the first trees went in the ground—they were able to begin selling the fruits of their harvest at their roadside stand. Not long after that, they opened the farm as a U-pick operation, and in 2005 the apples grown on the Beamish property were certified organic.
Mike was the first of the couple to retire (in 2012) and decided that in addition to the U-pick he would like to create some value-added products to add to their business. It wasn’t long before he began mulling over the idea of a brewery but he wasn’t willing to put the horse before the cart—he knew there would be a lot to learn. He found a course offered by the Artisan Craft Distillery Institute, but there was only one catch—it was in Washington state and he wasn’t sure he was going to get Carol on board. Happily, Mike was able to talk to the right people and an instructor from Washington was brought to PEI to offer the course. Mike participated in late February of 2013 and subsequently took two more courses through the Institute in 2014.
After completing those courses and doing quite a bit of other research and planning, Mike decided it was time to get started. His plan was to begin small and get a real feel for the business, and also, importantly, to gauge the reception from his fellow Islanders.
In July of 2014 Deep Roots Distillery launched its first two products; Island Tide, a clear spirit with a clean smooth taste similar to a moonshine; and a maple liqueur, which remains their best seller. Mike and Carol have added to the distillery’s repertoire which now includes an apple brandy made from their own apples. This brandy has proven very successful and since the distillery only produces two 60-litre barrels a year, it’s in high demand. Another popular item is their absinthe, made in the traditional way using distilled spirits and herbs.
A trip to Deep Roots Distillery is a must, as you never know when Mike and Carol might have a limited quantity of a special product on hand. In the past they have done a blueberry eau de vie and soon they will be featuring an iced apple liqueur, available only in small batches. If a trip to the distillery doesn’t fit in your timeline, you can also find their products at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market year-round and in Island liquor stores.