Valley of Mother of God gin marries Canadian provenance with British heritage and is a reminder that nature is the source of true luxury
It was while standing outside their beautiful 1840s log farmhouse that Malcolm Roberts and Shelly Perry began to formulate the concept that would lead to their award-winning gin brand, Valley of Mother of God. Most of the 72-acre farm, set in rolling countryside outside Toronto, was given over to wheat, but black walnut trees lined the front drive. Shelly saw the potential in the many valued botanicals growing naturally on their farm and together they came up with the idea of making a gin to bring the taste and beauty of the Canadian landscape to the world.
“The sophistication and complexity of our taste profile comes from the indigenous plants and herbs that are foraged for us locally and from across Canada,” explains Shelly. Although their recipe combines 20 botanicals, juniper lies at the heart of every gin. The couple settled on an earthy, woody variety from the Ottawa Valley that they blended with a soft, floral juniper from Tuscany. “Ultimately, the character and refinement of our gins truly shine because of their versatility in cocktails,” adds Shelly.
Although that eureka moment at the farm came in 2017, Valley of Mother of God was decades in the making. Malcolm had become seduced by the world of premium spirits ever since he started his career in advertising, working with whisky brands in Scotland. Upon moving to Canada, he continued to work with international spirits at his Toronto agency. One pivotal day, while driving up to the farm, he passed a road sign that read “Valley of Mother of God” and thought that it would be the perfect name for their future gin brand.
“With the rise of luxury spirits, we saw the trend in consumers reconnecting with nature in a more sophisticated way,” says Malcolm. “We wanted to create a sense of ‘rugged luxury’ in our brand that would put Canada on the map.” Once their foundational recipe was established, the couple spent 18 months working with tenth generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers in London to perfect the final recipe. “We didn’t compromise at any point, whether sourcing the botanicals, selecting the packaging or the sustainable distilling process.” Malcolm used his branding expertise to work with a celebrated New York packaging firm on a design that was distinctive and would appeal to both gin and single-malt drinkers.
Their Canadian Dry was launched in Ontario in 2020, followed by the Maplewood Smoked gin in 2022. Both were received with acclaim, winning several gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and SIP Awards. The couple intend to convert their century-old barn into a distillery to create a visitor experience but will continue packaging and distribution off-site to maintain the farm’s bucolic appeal.
With Valley of Mother of God now firmly established in Ontario, Malcolm and Shelly plan to move into other markets while building partnerships with like-minded collaborators across the globe. Campari selected their Canadian Dry as its partner in 2022 and 2023 for a series of events celebrating the Negroni cocktail. “We are seeking to add further partnerships and collaboration with brands that share our ethos,” says Malcolm. “Although we are founded in rural Ontario, from the beginning we envisioned ourselves as a luxury global brand.”