Ottawa Valley craft distillery bringing river tubing attraction to Pembroke, Ont.

O’Kenny Craft Spirits in Pembroke, Ont. have become known for their rye, gin, and moonshine.

But the alcohol makers are mixing in a water this summer and bringing a new tourist attraction to the Ottawa Valley – river tubing.

Owner Andrew Kenny says he has spent summers canoeing and kayaking on the Muskrat River through Pembroke. After encountering rocky and shallow spots, the idea to expand his distillery business floated to the surface.

“We’re right off the Trans-Canada Highway and we just happen to be on the Muskrat River,” Kenny tells CTV News.

Kenny’s four acres of land his distillery sits on is zoned as a private park, and says the city is on board for the lazy river business venture.

“The Muskrat River isn’t just suitable for tubing, it may be possibly the best river in North and South America for tubing,” Kenny argues.

“The river actually gets up to 20 C, which is room temperature, by about the middle of May. Upstream about 200 metres, we have a river monitoring station. It tells you minute by minute the temperature, flow, and the level of the water, as well as the air temperature.”

There are plans to have two tubing runs; one beginning five kilometres upstream from the distillery and ending under the Paul Martin Drive Bridge. The other will leave from the main dock at Paul Martin Drive and end at the Pembroke Marina. Kenny says shuttle and taxi transportation are also available for the in and out points.

He is diving right into his new venture as well with bookings for large groups opening Sunday, bookings for smaller groups opening later in the month, and the first river floats starting May 12.

“Most of our followers on Instagram are actually from Ottawa,” says Kenny. “So we have this huge amount of people who are coming down regularly for day trips.”

“I think the only time our distillery was more popular was when we were the only distillery in eastern Ontario with hand sanitizer.”

Kenny says he has 80 closed bottom tubes ordered and on the way and plans to order a set of open bottom tubes later in the season for hotter days and people who want to get wet.

Tube rentals will start at $19.95 with the shuttle service costing $5 per person. Kenny also plans to add more tourist attractions such as camping and axe throwing to his property, which is surrounded by two chain hotels as well.

The distiller says that the alcohol and tubing businesses will remain separate to prohibit people from drinking on the water, with safety top of mind.

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