Ken Winchester’s single-malt legacy
The fifth and largest-ever release of DEVINE Distillery & Winery’s coveted Glen Saanich Single Malt Whisky (1,016 bottles) quickly sold out this fall. “Ken [Winchester] and Kevin [Titcomb] put that beautiful whisky into the barrel in 2017,” says general manager Kirsten Titcomb of the ultra-local Saanich Peninsula bottling. Winchester, a trained winemaker and master distiller who founded the Island’s first craft distillery and created Victoria Gin, is a legendary name in B.C. distilling. Although he plans to step down by the end of 2020 at DEVINE, his legacy will endure.
“Glen Saanich was always Ken’s baby,” Titcomb says. Winchester even rescued and refurbished their vintage copper pot still, Brunhilde, which still makes every drop of DEVINE spirits, as well as producing the hand sanitizer that was crucial to the Saanich health-care community this past spring.
Glen Saanich is double-pot distilled using Scottish-style Concerto barley grown nearby and the property’s own pristine well water. A young-whisky sample that Winchester sent to Whisky Bible author Jim Murray scored a stellar 94 points in the 2017 edition. “Ken was just levitating all day!” Titcomb recalls of the auspicious day when the distillery received Murray’s rating.
Couple that glowing recognition with early batches aged in small 30-litre casks that yielded only 110 to 160 bottles to understand why the rare malt has built a cultish reputation. Today it’s aged in high-quality 200-litre ex-Woodinville Whiskey and Woodford Reserve oak casks. The casks that Winchester filled this past March and minimum three-year aging requirements for Canadian whisky ensure that future releases through 2023 will have his talented touch. In the rich, spicy malt, “there is no doubt with our Glen Saanich that you are tasting the peninsula,” says Titcomb. You are also tasting the finesse of a gifted winemaker and master distiller.
Make the Cinnamon Smoked Old Fashioned.
THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY:
DEVINE Distillery & Winery,
6181B Old West Saanich Road, Saanichton