Spirit of wine country

The South Okanagan is a fruitful playground for distillers to innovate and collaborate

“Smile, there’s gin,” says the chalked sign. Perched on the Naramata Bench, with a sleek tasting room and sunny patio overlooking Okanagan Lake, Legend Distilling could be mistaken for a hip winery. But a taste of its Doctors Orders gin puts me firmly in the spirit world as I begin my quest to discover what unites the South Okanagan Distillery Trail, a handful of stops mapped on a passport-style stamp card.

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What’s gold and bronze and acclaimed all over?

Local Lohin McKinnon Whisky launches to international accolades.

Lohin McKinnon’s new handcrafted single malt Peated Whisky and Chocolate Malt Whisky were recently awarded gold and bronze at the 2018 San Diego Spirits competition. Central City Distillers photo

Gold and bronze aren’t just hues to be found in fine whisky — they’re also the colours of the hardware Lohin McKinnon’s new whiskies took home at the recent 2018 San Diego Spirits Competition.

Having only just released in British Columbia, Lohin McKinnon’s new handcrafted single malt Peated Whisky and Chocolate Malt were both recognized with awards.

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A fine age

If you thought the debate over whisky and age was resolved, a B.C. newcomer and Scotch mainstay start the discussion over again

At BC Distilled, Andrew Campbell Wall poured Victoria Caledonian Distillery’s 17-month-old Mac na Braiche Single Malt Spirit, which has been earning comparisons to 10-year-old Scotch single malts. Victoria Caledonian Distillery photo.

You might forgive Andrew Campbell Wall if he seems just a wee bit bullish.

Wall is the Macaloney Ambassador for the neophyte Victoria Caledonian Distillery, which is based in B.C.’s capital city, but is Scottish through and through. Just to make the point, Wall is wearing his Campbell kilt and full regalia as he samples his wares at this year’s BC Distilled festival.

While he pours me a dram of Mac na Braiche Single Malt Spirit, he can barely contain his excitement.

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The Bon Vivant

The patio scene isn’t for everyone, including our man about town

Ryan Mitson Illustration

In many ways, I’ve always been hilariously unsuited to Vancouver, despite having lived here for the best part of 20 years. While I enjoy observing nature from the distant vantage point of a high-rise apartment, actually venturing into it makes me anxious and irritated. I look upon the lifestyle cults surrounding yoga, spinning and clamshell salads—ostensibly expressions of joyful living, yet deadly serious—as if they were the Republic of Gilead.

But what situates me permanently at the fringe of the party that is this city (this beautiful, very expensive party) is my habitual response to the arrival of summer. When everyone else rushes hysterically into the streets, as if drawn by the promise of eternal youth and free poké bowls, I draw the blinds and cower until nightfall.

I don’t want to be this person, but I have no choice: I’m a ginger.

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Sipping Tofino

Wolf in the Fog’s bar manager Hailey Pasemko. Wolf in the Fog photo

When you’re surrounded by wild bounty the way Tofino is, it only makes sense to use it however you can. And so Wolf in the Fog’s bar manager Hailey Pasemko transforms huckleberries into bitters, infuses gin with salal or spruce tips, and fat-washes vodka with salmon.

Now she’s looking beyond Tofino, to the great spirits being produced across B.C., for her new “Local Legends” cocktail program.

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World class city

Home Team cocktail. Photo courtesy of Chris Enns.

With Christopher Enns’ recent win in Montreal, that’s four times Vancouver bartenders have taken home the prestigious title of Diageo Reserve World Class Canada champion since the competition started in 2013.

Enns, who mans the shakers at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby Lounge, also recently won the Woodford Reserve Manhattan challenge in New York. “It’s been very busy, that’s for sure,” he says.

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Home Team

Home Team cocktail. Photo courtesy of Chris Enns.

Chris Enns prepared this cocktail for the World Class Canada 2018 national finals. “This drink came from the Wanderlust challenge where we came up with a cocktail inspired by both home and an away location,” he recalls. A twist on the Sazerac cocktail, the Home Team is inspired by the feeling of “home” he found at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, as well the home-team support among the World Class bartenders. Here it is served in a Scottish quaich cup; however, a chilled Old Fashioned or Sazerac-style glass would be fine.

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