Start your festive shopping now.
In a holiday season with some international supply-chain blips, shop local—and shop soon!—for B.C. small-batch spirts holiday gifts. Limited-edition and seasonal items sell out fast, so if you happen to miss out this season, get on e-newsletter lists or follow distilleries on social media to watch for the next drop, and be very nice (not naughty) until next year. Many items from last holiday season are bound to be available again, so check out last year’s guide, too.
Advent calendars: A spirit a day
The Sons of Vancouver Advent Calendar has 12 blended whiskies and 12 whisky liqueurs, such as a rye finished in curaçao barrels or a Southern-style peach whisky. Shelter Point’s second annual advent calendar, Twelve Delights to Wish 2021 Goodnight, is packed with whisky plus other spirits and liqueurs. And Okanagan Spirits 12 Days of Spirits advent calendar is chock full of everything from absinthe to whisky.
Around-the-world ticket: International inspiration
You don’t have to be Polish to love the Krupnik from Wayward Distillery: The spiced honey liqueur lovely in a hot toddy or mixed with apple cider or mulled wine. Grab a full-size or half-bottle at the Vancouver Christmas Market. Pemberton Spirits’ Kartoffelschnapps (spiced potato-based schnapps), Whisky & Wild Honey and Apple Brandy are European-style holiday classics. Bruinwood Estate Distillery’s Advocaat, an audience favourite at BC Distilled, takes the Dutch blend of eggs, cream vanilla, sugar and vodka to a decadent new level. Nordic notes of caraway, anise and dill flavour Sheringham Distillery’s award-winning Akvavit, and the 5th & Park Damson Gin from Fernie Distillers is a B.C. take on the British holiday staple, infused with Fernie-grown plums.
Boozy bites + merry mixers
Find festively boxes spirits three-packs plus stocking-stuffers like Okanagan Spirits drunken Haskap berries for garnishing cocktails, and whisky barrel-aged maple syrup for festive Old Fashioneds or boozy pancake breakfasts. Legend Distilling has boozy cherries, Gin Jam, Negroni Marmalade and range of cocktail glass-rimmers, in flavours from sumac to rosemary sea salt.
A Long Table Cocktail Mixes Kit is the next-best thing to visiting the distillery’s famed cocktail bar: Just add spirits to make the Southside, Seventh Seal, Something Nautical and Hotel Georgia cocktails. Devine Distillery has a Holiday Trio of cocktail favourites: Black Bear Spiced Honey Rum for your eggnog, Sloe Gin for hot toddies and strawberry-rich Kiss Eau de Vie for New Year’s Champagne cocktails.
Cream of the crop: cream liqueurs
Monashee Spirits’ Big Mountain Creamer rises to the top with chocolate, caramel, almond, vanilla honey and maple flavours, spiked with local Stoke Roasted Coffee. Pacific Rim Distilling has a new Calm Island Creamer that will give you the same spicy, sweet and gooey feels as cinnamon bun icing.
Evergreen favourites: gin
Do you just love that Christmas-tree aroma? Amongst B.C.’s biggest evergreen gins is Stump Coastal Forest Gin from Phillips Brewing & Malting, packed with juniper, grand fir, laurel and even hops. Tofino Craft Distillery’s Old Growth Cedar Gin, with red cedar tips, is a whiff of coastal rainforest in a glass; it’s not chill-filtered, so some “Tofino fog” haze in a well-chilled Martini is normal! Golden-hued Forest Dweller Gin from Arbutus Distillery is oak-matured with grand fir tips, pine, spruce and other botanicals for pine-forest notes, and Whistler-made Alpine Gin from Montis Distilling captures a day on the slopes in foraged local botanicals. For a crimson contrast: Bespoke Spirits House has a Winter Solstice Gin, coloured and flavoured with pomegranate and warming spices.
Sweet somethings: liqueurs
Schnapps are a holiday-season favourite, and Mad Laboratory’s Sarsaparilla Schnapps brings the complexity of old-timey root-beer-type flavours into a modern day cure-all apothecary-style bottling.
Drink like an Italian and enjoy some nocino (a rich green-walnut liqueur, often layered with vanilla and spice) this holiday season. Watch for the annual release of Ampersand Distillery’s Nocino!, which was the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year; or grab one of the very-limited-release bottles of The Woods Spirit Co.’s Barrel-Aged Nocino, made from distiller Fabio Martini’s Italian family recipe.
Whisky cabinet collectibles
Pioneers in B.C. whisky, Odd Society Spirits recently released two bottlings in its Peat & Smoke series, expressions of Scottish and Washington malts. For the Naughty and Nice on your list, two limited releases from the Dubh Glas Distillery fit the bill: Naughty, infused with Scottish peated malt and finished in an Islay barrel, has maritime and campfire smoke to complement caramel and vanilla notes; Nice, matured in an ex-bourbon barrel seasoned with Amaretto, has fruit and candy notes, with layers of apricot and toffee.
A startender cocktail
And finally, while it’s unlike us to wander east of the B.C. border with recommendations, Edmonton-based Above Average Drinks has bottled Clyde Common Eggnog in partnership with influential bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, should your next trip Pacific Northwest road trip to Portland be delayed—it even comes with a whole nutmeg for grating over the top!
Make a Hot Buttered Honey Shine with Devine Disitllery’s Honey Shine Amber
—by Charlene Rooke