How a love of gin put Victoria Distillers on the map
Almost a decade ago, Peter Hunt and his family made a decision that changed their business model forever: they bought a still. The family-run winery soon recreated themselves as Victoria Distillers, and their gin quickly became one of B.C.’s best-recognized local spirits.
“When we saw that it was possible to do distilling in B.C., we kind of wanted to explore that,” Hunt, who bartended his way through university studying molecular biology, recalls. The response was phenomenal. Soon it was clear: their future was going to be all about spirits. What began as a side project for Hunt became a career; he is now the general manager and master distiller.
“We were one of three distilleries in B.C. and now there are over 40,” he notes. “We really had a niche for ourselves in the beginning. No one else was doing gin. We were one of the first people doing premium gin in Canada.” While the distillery does make small batches of other spirits (whisky, rum and vodka), their focus remains gin.
“In 2007, we were Bombay drinkers and knew that gin could be better. We wanted to create a spirit that was complex, but balanced. Over the first year of production we tweaked and refined
“The gin that is well-loved today combines 10 botanicals to marry citrus, floral, juniper and spice,” Hunt explains. “We’ve reduced the juniper content compared to a standard London Dry which allows the other elements to shine through leaving the spirit balanced but complex.”
Indeed, Victoria Gin has proved so popular, that the distillery moved to a larger space on the Sidney waterfront earlier this year. Further renovations and an expansion into the U.S. and international markets are next on the agenda. “It’s an exciting time,” Hunt says. “People are starting to choose local spirits — the growth is not done yet.
“As the number of distilleries grows and the quality continues to increase, and as the industry matures, B.C. will become a destination for distilleries, similar to its wineries,” he predicts.
“There is a lot of a talent here, and it’s beginning to be recognized far and wide.”
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9891 Seaport Place, Sidney