North Van distillery reaps the rewards of craftsmanship
Winning a prestigious Global Gin Masters Medal—only a few months after they opened their doors—is just one of the exciting things happening at North Vancouver’s Copperpenny Distilling Co.
“Our key focus here is that we recognize, as a distillery, we are more than a maker of spirits, we are a purveyor of experiences,” says Jan Stenc, co-founder of the distillery along with his partner in work and life, Jennifer Kom-Tong. “The whole idea that it is a meaningful social interaction is super-important to us.”
The couple opened the distillery doors in early 2022 after travelling the world chasing their careers in the motion picture industry (and, for Jenn, working with the Magic Mike Live franchise). Wherever they went, they would seek out local gins, and often bring a bottle home as well. “That became our way of remembering those unique experiences. And in the end, we decided we wanted to create our own B.C. gin here,” Jan says. “We’ve got this beautiful combination of the ocean and the mountains and we’re such a multicultural port city—it seemed important that we created our own message in a bottle.”
Gin, he notes “really captures a sense of place in a spirit. Gin really does reflect not only the culture that makes it, but the history that led up to its creation as well as all the locally available botanicals.” They already use some B.C. botanicals and wheat from the Peace River region in their products and plan to use even more in limited releases like the upcoming partnership with Fanny Bay Oysters, utilizing their oyster shells, which add salinity and minerality to the gin.
Guests can enjoy these well-crafted spirits in Copperpenny’s gin parlour and tasting room on North Vancouver’s Esplanade Avenue, where Jenn has put her distinctive design skills to beautiful use. There they can also watch the stills in action through a large glass wall that acts as a looking glass from the tasting room into the distillery. “We’ve invested in some pretty unique distilling equipment from the Netherlands that combines art and science,” says Jan. They are real conversation pieces.
Next up for Copperpenny is a selection of liqueurs and amaros designed especially for cocktails, as well as spirit-specific master classes, private event bookings, a sipping society, new barrel cellar and, just in time for the holidays, custom labelling and adorable 50 mL bottles perfect for stocking stuffers.
Meanwhile, they are still basking in the glow from their blind tasting win at the 2022 Spirits Business Global Gin Masters Competition, announced on July 1 in London, UK, where Copperpenny Gin No. 005 won the prestigious Masters Medal —“the highest possible award”—in the Global Micro-distillery category.
“It was a very welcome and humbling experience for sure,” Jan says. “Being only open for nine months, we were looking for some feedback from the ultimate authority. To get a Gin Masters Medal so quickly was really unexpected, but it’s real validation.”