Distiller Harrison Torr and His Proud Creations


A Trip to Beattie's Distillers:

The Alliston Potato Legacy, Now A World Class Vodka.

Posted by: Rick Parnham


Having errantly hit my fair share of golf balls into the local potato fields growing up near Alliston Ontario, the importance of that crop to the area is a lasting memory of my younger years. A chance encounter with a taste of vodka at a recent birthday celebration brought me back to my roots when I read the label and saw the splendid spirit was distilled a few minutes from where I grew up.


The Beattie name has been a stalwart in the community since the late 1800’s. Potato farming has been in the family for well over a century and Ken and wife Liz are the 4th generation hillers of the spud. Producing chip potatoes has been the farm’s primary activity, but with a surplus of non-salable crop each year an idea dawned to transform these cattle feed spuds into something unique. In keeping with the family philosophy of treading lightly on the land, in 2015, they built and opened a state of the art distillery that now diverts thousands of pounds of potatoes a year from being unmarketable to producing a product that is unique and becoming highly coveted.


Distiller Harrison Torr grew up a few kilometers from Alliston as well. After high school he headed to PEI and literally came back with a degree in the history of alcohol. He also absorbed vast distilling experience from working with a Master Distiller learning the craft of making vodka from PEI’s famous crop. Now plying his craft for the Beatties, Torr is proud to share that the flagship vodka has recently been awarded Platinum and Best in Show status at a world distillers competition. His passion for his craft has carved a niche in the boutique distiller world. More than just potatoes and Hondas’ Alliston is now on the map as a home to world class vodka.


I was fortunate to have Torr provide me with a  tour. His degree in the history of alcohol made for 90 minutes of fascinating conversation and learning. Descriptions of the process from start to finish, including the methodologies and the equipment used to create this nectar of the spud, was enlightening and informative. Torr throwing in a wealth of anecdotes and history throughout made the afternoon a great blend of science, folklore, laughs and eventually lead to the tastings of his labour of love.


Following the creation of the flagship potato vodka, Torr evolved the brand to create a distinctly unique gin. Little did I know that gin is actually vodka that has been spiced and has been made for centuries. He wanted to create a distinctive spirit and infused citrus, orange and lemon into his blend, trying to create a different taste from our grandparents gin.


A conversation about Irish wakes lead us to the story behind Torr’s unique creation of a white oak barrel Poitin. (pronounced - Pooh Chin) Torr wanted to create a tribute to this centuries old libation that connected with his study of alcohol history. The craft of making ancient Poitin was not very refined and lead to many comatose drinkers being mistakenly buried alive after consuming some of the poisonous gases in the distillation process. The tradition of a 72 hour pause before burial became the norm, just in case the honoree came to and joined the celebration. Torr’s creation has the distinctive flavorings of a whisky infused in the vodka through the barrel aging process and a fascinating story behind it.


The latest creation is a sweet potato vodka that has that distinct taste and offers a lower alcohol percentage than their signature Farm-Crafted Potato Vodka. Additional seasonal blends are something that Torr is becoming known for, with a new creation bottled every three months or so that is a one time recipe. The distillery offers a special tasting day for those unveilings and are becoming very popular events.


The Core Brands


Having spent the majority of my youth in the area and traversing the concession roads through the endless potato fields, it was nice to go back home. Uncovering this local family owned distillery that is beginning to affirm itself in the world of the spirit “Big Boys,” was time well spent. A stop at Beattie’s Distillers gives that same welcoming feeling you get when you pay a visit to a roadside farmers market. The pride the family and staff have in the new endeavour is hard to miss. With a commitment to making world-class spirits for consumers and tapping into the wealth of knowledge and creativity Torr brings to the brand, Beattie’s will soon be a name rolling off the tongues of vodka lovers world-wide.


Beattie’s Distillers

6673 13th Line

Alliston, ON

L9R 1V4































State of the Art Still


















Barrell-aged Poitin