You can savour the best of B.C. whisky during a guided tasting this week

Two whiskey glasses.

Whisky & Words takes place this Friday, March 8 on International Women’s Day, and the event will feature some of the finest spirits from across the globe.

The Vancouver Writers Fest hosts the annual whisky tasting event, previously called A Dram Come True, in order to raise funds for youth education programming. Guests enjoy unlimited drams of whisky from distilleries around the world, as well as local craft spirits and beer. They also get to eat delicious food, enjoy live music, and partake in a silent auction that features rare and unique whiskies as well as experiences.

What’s more, the event has added six masterclasses in tailored pop-ups across Granville Island that will guide participants through a whisky tasting along with food pairings. While the main event is sold out, five of the six masterclasses are still available. They cost $50 to $65 each, but all ticket purchases will include a tax receipt for $40.

Vancouver Is Awesome spoke to Charlene Rooke, journalist and spirits educator, who explained the inspiration behind the festival, as well as how she got involved in the whisky industry.

“I’ve been a journalist for over 25 years, and I’ve traveled to Scotland, Kentucky, Portland, San Fransisco, and various other cities visiting distilleries,” she said.  “I never once felt unwelcome in any of these places because I am a woman, but I would often find that I was one of few women present at tastings. I don’t think that this was due to any specific barriers, but rather because it isn’t something women have been exposed to.”

Rooke notes that this hasn’t been the case for wine, and a couple of spirits, such as gin or vodka. However, brown spirits, such as whisky and aged rum, have been less popular with women.

With that in mind, the masterclasses, as well as the festival, hope to attract a new crowd to the world of whisky. Further, three of the events six masterclasses, will be led by women.

“B.C. has a number of amazing whisky distilleries that are up and coming,” explains Rooke. “For example, a distillery on Vancouver Island uses ancient grains, such as kamut and spelt. The class that I am leading will showcase seven distilleries from across the province, and give guests the chance to try some truly unique flavours.”

Rooke underscores that B.C. whiskies are notably innovative, and that almost every grain is represented in the distilleries that she chose. She adds that the local distilleries are also completely transparent, so consumers know exactly what is going into each spirit.

Whisky & Words Masterclasses

Time in a Barrel: At the Granville Island Hotel, join Darryl Lamb of Legacy Liquor for Time in a Barrel, a grain seminar that compares how time in a barrel alters the taste of white spirits and whisky. Whiskies will be paired with delectable bites from the Dockside Restaurant.

BC Whisky: Whiskies from our corner of the world are making a splash on the world stage. Join Charlene Rooke in Edible Canada’s demo kitchen to explore the best of BC whiskies including Shelter Point, Lohin McKinnon, Goodridge&Williams, Okanagan Spirits and more along with local, farm-to-table fare from Edible’s esteemed kitchen.

Terroir & BourbonJoin Colin Bussiere of Only Hearts Spirits to explore and taste the impact terroir brings to local craft North American bourbon along with Origins Coffee Roasters’s John Sanders to discuss these revered and culturally important beverages, as well as the producers that represent them.

SOLD OUT Science & Whisky: Tuck into the Crush private dining room at The Sandbar restaurant with ambassador Bryan Simpson, to take an in-depth look at the science behind Glenmorangie Single Malt Whisky. Simpson will reveal the brand’s unique processes and lead you through a selection of the Glenmorangie range including Glenmorangie  10 Year Old, Lasant, Nectar D’or, Signet and Glenmorangie Mystery Bottle—all while enjoying canapés from the kitchen.

Whisky & Authors: Join Jamie Johnson of The Balvenie and author Alix Ohlin for a cozy fireside conversation celebrating the crafts of whisky-making and writing. Whiskies including The Balvenie’s DoubleWood 12, Caribbean Cask 14, DoubleWood 17 and Single Barrel 12 will be paired with elegant bites from Dockside Restaurant.

Women & Whisky: Join Beth Havers, Canada’s first female Scotch Ambassador, for an exploration of Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts featuring exciting food pairings by PICA chefs.

—by Elana Shepert, Vancouver Is Awesome

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