Triticale could be the craft-spirit buzzword of 2019, thanks to the B.C. winner that tops the 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition, with six other B.C. distilleries winning best-in-class honours.
For the second year in a row, a B.C. small-batch spirit is the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. Monashee Spirits Ethos Gin from Revelstoke was not only the best-in-class Canadian gin, but scored highest of any entry in the entire competition. (Last year, Sheringham Distillery’s Akvavit from Vancouver Island claimed that honour.) And B.C. distilleries swept bragging rights in the whisky categories, showing promising maturity in our young industry.
This was the second year for the Canadian Artisan Spirit Awards (CASC), the country’s only spirits competition for small distilleries. Last fall, a national panel of judges (including, full disclosure, me: I’m the lead judge) received a series of small, heavy boxes, containing numbered samples of enough spirits to cover an entire kitchen table in bottles, containing spirits every colour of the rainbow. Let’s just say it requires a flight-a-day blind-tasting discipline for several weeks to get the job done.
“A competition like this is welcome among artisan distillers to help them spread the word about the great sprits they’re producing. I’m gratified to see awarding-winning submissions from across the country.”
Submissions were up 50 per cent over last year, growth that shows “a competition like this is welcome among artisan distillers to help them spread the word about the great sprits they’re producing,” says Alex Hamer, CASC’s founder. “I’m gratified to see awarding-winning submissions from across the country.”
Monashee Ethos Gin might just put the grain triticale (a hybrid of rye and wheat) on the tip of local imbiber’s tongues. The botanical-rich gin uses not only local juniper, spruce tips and ponderosa pine needles but also huckleberries, creating a nose that bursts with blossom and citrus aromas and a palate that’s both peppery and silky.
B.C. whisky nerds have a lot to brag about. Last year’s overall CASC winner, Sheringham Distillery in Sooke, took best-in-class honours this year for its Red Fife Whisky, while the best Young Whisky was a still-maturing version of de Vine Spirits‘ beloved Glen Saanich single malt. The bartender-candy White Rye from Vancouver’s Resurrection Spirits was the best-in-class White Spirit (a category that also contained many entries of so-called white dog, or new-make, unaged white spirits)
Other B.C. best-in-class winners included Vancouver’s Long Table Distillery for its Långbord Akvavit, The Woods Spirit Co. for its popular North Van-made Pacific Northwest Amaro and The Liberty Distillery on Vancouver’s Granville Island for its Railspur No. 3 Switch in the Aged Spirit category.
Other B.C. Medal winners included Ampersand Distilling Co., Arbutus Distillery, Mad Laboratory Distilling, Maple Leaf Spirits, Merridale Cidery & Distillery, Odd Society Spirits, Shelter Point Distillery, Stealth Distilleries, The Dubh Glas Distillery, Victoria Distillers and Wayward Distillation House.
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Alberta distilleries also won best-in-class honours, and in addition to medal-winners from those provinces, distilleries from Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec also won Gold, Silver or Bronze medals.
The results were announced on February 5, 2019, by Artisan Distillers Canada (ADC), a new organization (founded by Alex Hamer, who runs the wildly successful B.C. Distilled festival) to support and promote artisan distilleries across Canada. Find complete results at https://artisandistillers.ca/2019-results/
BEST IN CLASS WINNERS
Absinthe: Deep Roots Distillery Absinthe (PEI)
Aged Gin: Ironworks Distillery Aged Gin (Nova Scotia)
Aged Spirit: The Liberty Distillery Railspur No. 3 Switch (B.C.)
Akvavit: Long Table Distillery Långbord Akvavit (B.C.)
Amaro or Vermouth: The Woods Spirit Co Pacific Northwest Amaro (B.C.)
Brandy: Winegarden Estate Winery & Distillery Johnny Ziegler Senior (New Brunswick)
Gin: Monashee Spirits Ethos Gin (B.C.)
Liqueur: Hansen Distillery Morning Glory Cream Liquor (Alberta)
Infused Vodka: Capital K Distillery Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka (Manitoba)
Rum: Barrelling Tide Distillery 5 Fathom Dark Rum (Nova Scotia)
Vodka: Stone Heart Distillery Ltd. Vodka (Alberta)
Whisky: Sheringham Distillery Red Fife Whisky (B.C.)
Young Whisky: de Vine Spirits Glen Saanich (B.C.)
White Spirit: Resurrection Spirits Inc. Resurrection Spirits White Rye (B.C.)
—by Charlene Rooke