Riding a wave in Quebec’s craft distillery scene that began around 2017, Cluis founded Distillerie Fove in 2021, working out of Distillerie Comont where she continues to operate today.
While many early distillers have largely focused on spirits such as gin and their botanical expressions, the story Cluis wanted to tell was about the pathways and destinations raw materials can take through fermentation, flavour development and distillation methods; in essence, a story of science.
Hence the name Distillerie Fove, named after the Latin fovere — to warm, cherish or nurture — referring to both the fermentation and distillation of the product and the warmth felt when drinking it.
Cluis turned her attention to acerum, which starts from a taste embedded in Quebec’s identity and ends up turned into a flavour completely distinct from its source, capable of being developed into other flavours by applying different yeasts and fermentation techniques.
Time and research have yielded Fove’s current lineup of products: A white acerum made with champagne yeast for a light, floral flavour with notes of pear, melon and even licorice; and an aged acerum that uses the same yeast used for Brazilian cachaça, which yields something that tastes of ripe, heavy red fruits.
To date, acerum remains a relatively unexplored product in the province, with roughly 10 distillers producing it from different angles and strategies.
“There’s something here to build — it’s not every day that you have a new category of spirit to develop,” Cluis says.
Because of Quebec’s deepening interest in complex drinks — including increased wine production due to climate change — Cluis has found that people are more open to being engaged in the process behind the product.
“Using maple syrup to make a unique spirit like this, we can showcase a resource that’s unique to us, and that captures a lot of imaginations,” she adds. “There’s still a lot of educational potential to it.”
Cluis now hopes to acquire her own space and continue experimenting, bringing her passion for science to the development of a new spirit. From there, who knows what could bubble up, as she envisions new initiatives — including a research program to study her newfound field — collaborative studies with universities and, always, new flavours to uncover.