First Ever Craft BC Whisky Weekend comes to Victoria and Vancouver

The Craft BC Whisky Weekend was held October 29 and 30 in Victoria and Vancouver. Supplied photo

Over the past decade British Columbia has become the focal point for craft distilleries within Canada. Prior to 2013, there were only a handful of distilleries in operation in the province. However, once the Provincial Government established new regulations around “commercial” and “craft” distilleries, exempting “craft” distillers from the more than 160 percent markup the province applies to all other B.C. spirit makers, there has been an enormous boom. Today, there are close to 100 distilleries in operation.

Of these distilleries, close to half have either released a whisky or have one or more expressions currently maturing in their warehouse for future release. While the whisky industry within British Columbia is still relatively young, local distilleries are beginning to gain national and even international attention.

At the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards, BC-based distilleries won the awards for Best Single Malt, Best Corn Whisky, and Best All-Rye Whisky. Additionally, Okanagan Spirits was recognized as the Artisanal Distiller of the Year. And looking abroad, Shelter Point’s Single Malt and Smoke Point were awarded Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year.

BC distilleries are truly having a moment. 

With the momentum of the industry in full gear, Vancouver-based Reece Sims, owner of SIP Spirits Consulting and Victoria-based Melissa McKinney, owner of Victoria Whisky Tastings recognized that there was a need to showcase the local ‘water of life’ and the Craft BC Whisky Weekend was born. “We’re at a very interesting time in BC’s whisky making history and I am excited to see how all of these distilleries continue to evolve their styles year over year”, notes Sims.

Participants could choose from eight master classes to learn more about B.C. whiskies. Supplied photo

Hosted simultaneously in Vancouver and Victoria on October 29-30th, the weekend featured eight unique masterclasses which highlighted close to 30 different distilleries and more than 50 different whiskies. Reception from attendees was overwhelmingly positive in both cities. “It was so fun to teach people about all the unique offerings that our wonderful province has to offer”, gushed McKinney. “I can’t wait to host this again next year!” 

While this event was the first of its kind, Sims mentions that “we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the incredible work that Alex Hamer and the BC Distilled team has done to highlight craft distilleries since 2014. He was an enormous wealth of knowledge during the initial planning stages.”

A selection of B.C. whiskies, as featured in the Wheat and Ancient Grains Master Class. Supplied photo

These are the masterclasses, distilleries, and whiskies that were featured at the Craft BC Whisky Weekend:

Masterclass 1: Single Malt Whisky

Okanagan Spirits – Laird of Fintry Single Malt (10th Anniversary Edition)
Odd Society Spirits – Commodore Single Malt
Mad Lab Distilling – Single Malt
Arbutus Distillery – Single Malt
Macaloney Island Distillery – Invernahaven
Moon Distillery – Three Sheets to the Moon

Masterclass 2: (Not) Bourbon

Okanagan Spirits – BRBN
Bearface Triple Oak
Mainland Distillery – Time Machine
After Dark Distillery – Monashee Mountain Whisky
The Liberty Distillery – TRUST Southern
Stillhead Distillery – B-Word

Masterclass 3: Wheat & Ancient Grains

DeVine Distillery – Ancient Grains
The Liberty Distillery – TRUST Ancient Grains
Monashee Distillery – Triticale Whisky Batch No. 2
Tumbleweed Distillery – 1888 Triticale
Stillhead Distillery – Smokin’ Wheat
Copper Spirit Distillery – Red Fife Wheat Whisky
Goodridge & Williams – Northern Grains

Masterclass 4: Rye

Goldstream Distillery – Rye
Arbutus Distillery – Rye
Okanagan Spirits – Rye
Odd Society Spirits – Prospector Rye
The Liberty Distillery – TRUST Rye
Resurrection Spirits – Rye

Masterclass 5: Single Malts

Shelter Point Distillery – Single Malt Whisky
Fermentorium Distillery – Small Talk
Odd Society Spirits – Commodore Single Malt
Moon Distillery – Antifogmatic Bliss
Tumbleweed Spirits – Walking Bird Single Malt
Two Brewers Distillery – Classic Release No. 35

Masterclass 6: Unique Releases

Okanagan Spirits – Packinghouse Amber
Goodridge and Williams – Western Grains
Bearface Elemental Series No. 1 – Matsutake
The Liberty Distillery – TRUST Single Grain
DeVine Distillery – Glen Saanich Wine Cask Finish
Macaloney Island Distillery – Invermallie Portuguese Red Wine Barrique

Masterclass 7: Brandy

Wayward Distillery – Cortes Island Apple Brandy (Cask Strength)
Merridale Cidery – XXO Brandy
Wynndel Distillery – Aged Peach Brandy
Maple Leaf Spirits – Lady of the Cask Brandy
Okanagan Spirits – Canados
Forbidden Spirits – Adam’s Apple Brandy
Alchemist Distiller – Duke Apple Brandy
Wynndel Distillery – Cape Brandy

Masterclass 8: Smoky & Peaty

Two Brewers Distillery – Peat Release No. 30
Odd Society Spirits – Peat & Smoke
Shelter Point Distillery – Smoke Point
Stillhead Distillery – Smokin’ Wheat
Lohin McKinnon – Peated Single Malt
Macaloney Island Distillery – Peated Mac Na Braiche
Mad Lab Distilling – Smoked Old Fashioned

For more information about the event and whiskies from British Columbia visit 

—by Reece Sims

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