The Black Fly of Canada

PET is the material of choice for rtd alcoholic drinks

Black Fly Beverage Company, Ontario’s first micro-distillery was founded in 2005 by husband & wife Rob Kelly and Cathy Siskind-Kelly after being awarded the first Distillery License granted in Ontario in over 100 years. “It was a real start-up” Rob explained. “We have not been in the beverage business before; we came from very different working areas.”

We met Rob Kelly, Co-Founder of Black Fly Beverage Co.

“We originally planned a micro brewery 15 years ago. But because of the growing in this business we shifted our plans to produce a kind like a ‘cool craft alcohol, ready-to-drink’ which was very unique at this time,” Rob continued. “Even if there has been some other products on the market, in Europe they call them Alcopops, they mostly have been mass production, we would like to focus on specialties”.

The vision was to create more natural and less sweet premium spirit beverages using quality ingredients and innovative packaging. Like the iconic Canadian insect after which the company is named, Black Fly started small with determination to fly under the radar and deliver a mighty bite. Since that time, Black Fly has successfully developed and launched a line-up of unique premium spirit beverages that speak to what today’s consumers are looking for; innovative “Not to sweet” quality ready to drink.

Originally housed in an historic bank building in the heart of downtown London, Ontario, Black Fly Beverage Company moved its operation in May of 2008 to a state-of-the-art production facility located in the city’s leading industrial quarter. Black Fly strives to work with as many local suppliers and trade partners as possible in an effort to support Ontario and Canadian businesses and reduce our environmental footprint by shopping local.

Green initiatives

“At Black Fly we understand that as we continue to grow so will our environmental footprint. Reducing that environmental footprint through good business practices and a host of green initiatives is a key value of Black Fly Beverage Company. That is why we started to produce our own bottles at a certain point in time. For a small craft alcohol producer it is unique to do so. The decision was made in favour of Sipa equipment in 2016. My production manager was previously at trade fairs and had the opportunity to get to know Sipa. We were invited to see Sipa machines during production. We will continue to grow, so we will buy more equipment from Sipa.” Rob explained.


Black Fly bottles are made locally in Ontario. These bottles are made from PET, the most recyclable plastic currently used in this industry. “These drinks are characterised as convenient drinks, glass was no option. The consumer takes the drink with him everywhere, so the packaging must be light and easy to handle. There were no bad experiences with drinking cocktail from a PET bottle, with wine or beer it wouldn’t work. Our bottles are only 40 grams when empty which is six times lighter than a traditional glass bottle. This means the transportation of our products results in less green house gases (CO2 emissions). And the production in glass would also have been much more expensive. For example the mould costs of PET were much more attractive.” The preforms are supplied by a small local manufacturer and additionally by Resilux. Black Fly bottles are strong and unbreakable, making these bottles a safe choice in environments where broken glass poses a problem, explains Rob.


The bottles are also much easier to break down during recycling requiring less energy to shred PET then to melt glass. Black Fly’s single use bottles are not necessarily single use. The bottles actually have a much longer life span as recycled materials then as Black Fly bottles. The deposit programs implemented by their retail partners ensures a high rate of customer return and therefore recycling than other bottles and plastics that have no return monetary value to consumers. Black Fly bottles work their way through The Beer Store’s recycling system in Ontario, ending up at a Canadian recycling business where they are then sold to companies that make car parts, clothing and other plastics.

Reduced corrugate

Reduced packaging designs: Black Fly’s 4 pack carriers were designed to reduced packaging using the least amount of corrugate possible while remaining compliant with industry packaging standards for crush testing and tamperproof packaging. The open sided carriers allow consumers to easily see the products, while providing a sturdy consumer carrying container. Black Fly uses less corrugate then traditional top-open and closed containers. Black Fly 4-packs have a unique locking design which utilises a glue-less closure system.

Black Fly’s team is committed to reducing waste at all levels, from staff sorting and recycling any business materials that do not have bins within their industrial area, to larger initiatives that involve large recycling companies. Bottles, corrugate and shipping containers at Black Fly are all recyclable after use. Black Fly uses a local recycling business to support its programs, and commends its staff for initiating and committing to these green programs.

We thank Rob for an interesting presentation of his unique company.

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