B.C.’s artisan distillery tasting rooms provide a taste of local culture along with craft spirits and cocktails.
LEGEND DISTILLING, NARAMATA
This wine area is also home to some fine spirits. With its “farm-to-glass” philosophy, Legend uses B.C. grains to make smooth Shadow of the Lake Vodka and apothecary-style bottles of Doctor’s Orders Gin.
In the tasting room, sample Manitou Orange and Sumac liqueur or Naramaro (an Okanagan nod to bitter amaro), plus a small-batch whisky, Wyatt. Legend’s Urtica Eatery has a patio overlooking Okanagan Lake and the valley, with equally spectacular cocktails and seasonal fare.
BRUINWOOD ESTATE DISTILLING, ROBERTS CREEK
This rural Sunshine Coast property just 1,000 square feet is big in creativity. Three separate stills are required for its gin, imbued with botanicals like anise and lemongrass. Vodka comes in two flavours: chocolate and vanilla (try the latter with some ice cream and an espresso shot).
Heavenly Honey Liqueur is made with local honey and Italian-inspired Nucino is made by steeping green walnuts with coffee and cloves. Try the spirits at the distillery’s tasting room, up a slope of a country road surrounded by thick forest.
MONASHEE SPIRITS CRAFT DISTILLERY, REVELSTOKE
Revelstoke is not only a spectacular mountain town–it’s also where some of B.C.’s best libations are made. Monshee Distillery took home top prize at the 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition for its Ethos Gin.
Its chocolatey and caramelly Big Mountain Creamer liqueur is made with local Stoke Roasted Coffee. Monashee also produces Vulcan’s Fire, a fiery cinnamon liqueur made with apples, honey, maple syrup and Thai red chilies; as well a crisp vodka, made with organic B.C. wheat. Taste them on their own here, or in hand-crafted cocktails like a Mountain Margarita.
SHERINGHAM DISTILLERY, SOOKE
A picturesque walk sparked the creation of Alayne and Jason MacIsaacs’ Sheringham Distiillery, recently relocated from Shirley to Sooke. Strolling by forest and ocean, the two happened upon a wild Nootka rose bush and set out to bottle all the seductive aromas surrounding them.
Their Seaside Gin (made with Juniper, rose, lavender, citrus, coriander, cardamom and sustainably harvested winged kelp) was recently named best contemporary gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards.
In Sheringham’s tasting room, try Kazuki Gin with Japanese cherry blossom petals, yuzu peels and green-tea leaves; or an Akvavit with hints or caraway, dill and anise that was the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year in 2018.
AMPERSAND DISTILLING COMPANY, DUNCAN
If science is at the heart of distilling, the father-son duo behind Ampersand couldn’t be better qualified. Stephen and Jeremy Schacht both bring engineering backgrounds to the craft distillery on a five-acre Cowichan Valley organic farm.
Voted B.C.’s best gin at the BC Distilled festival for three years in a row, signature Ampersand Gin is made with organic B.C. wheat and eight wild botanicals. Sip on it, or on organic Per Se Vodka, at the by-appointment tasting room, in full view of the stills (affectionately known as Dot and Dash). Consider it the best-tasting science class you’ve ever had.
By Gail Johnson