Artisanal sprits showcased at BC Distilled

Alexa Mazzarello photo

Amaro. Akvavit. Absinthe. Amaretto. And that’s just the As of B.C. artisan distilling. Just imagine what the rest of the alphabet can produce.

Actually, you don’t have to, because you can try them all for yourself at BC Distilled this weekend.

It’s the sixth year for the fest, organized by founder Alex Hamer, who also oversees the Canadian Spirit Competition. This year will feature 40 distilleries—up from 17 in the inaugural year—with well over 100 products being poured.

Since that first festival, Hamer says, both the variety and the quality of the spirits has increased greatly. So has the number of distilleries in B.C.—the first artisan distillery, Okanagan Spirits, opened in 2004, and there are now 64 in the province, with more licences pending. That’s more than the rest of Canada combined.

And the best place to sample all of this spirited bounty is at BC Distilled. The festival, which is held at the Croatian Cultural Centre on Commercial Drive, features a trade tasting in from 2 to 4:30 on Saturday, April 6, followed by the main tasting at 6 p.m. Ticket price includes all samples. (There is also a Distillers Dinner at Forage restaurant on Friday, but it has long been sold out.)

If you go, keep the following tips in mind:

• Plan your tasting strategy in advance. The list of featured distilleries is posted on the BC Distilled website.

• Eat something. There will nibbles at the fest and food trucks outside.

• Go ahead and spit. Your ticket covers the cost of all the samples, so you’ll get your money’s worth no matter what.

• Shop! The on-site Legacy Liquor pop-up store will carry spirits from all the festival distilleries.

• Make sure you have a safe way to get home.

For tickets and information, visit

—by Joanne Sasvari

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