Exploring BC’s best: Over 200 artisan spirits to be featured at BC Distilled

BC Distilled returns (this time at the Italian Cultural Centre) on Saturday, April 13. Photo courtesy of BC Distilled

BC Distilled, Canada’s leading artisan distillery showcase, is set to return from April 10th to 14th, offering a dynamic lineup of events for local enthusiasts of craft spirits. This year, the Main Tasting will be hosted at the Italian Cultural Centre, following the closure of its previous venue, the Croatian Cultural Centre.

Highlights for the week include the highly anticipated Distillers Dinner at Forage, guided whisky tastings with recent Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame inductee Davin De Kergommeaux, and the showcase of 30 distilleries’ products. Additionally, Legacy Liquor will host an on-site pop-up retail shop on April 13th, ensuring attendees can take their favourite spirits home.

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Scotch Sippers

Our bartenders explain how to master single-malt mixology

Sweet, spicy, smoky: Scotch whisky has something for everyone. Getty Images photo

In the world of spirits, few elixirs carry the weight of tradition and reverence as does single malt whisky. This liquid gold, celebrated for its complexity and rich character, has long been the epitome of sipping perfection. It is often imbibed neat, treasured in crystal glasses and savoured slowly, as if each drop encapsulates generations of craftsmanship.

Historically the thought of mixing such a revered spirit into a cocktail was nothing short of sacrilegious. However, with the variety of flavour profiles offered by the category, as well as an interest from distilleries to produce their own interpretations around the globe, a transformation is underway. Bartenders are now revitalizing classics and reimagining new possibilities.

Our tasting panel team comprises Jenna Gillespie, Lory Nixon and Kate Chernoff from British Columbia and Erika Mauro, Ashley Flynn and Jenn Abergel from Ontario. This all-female perspective weighs in on their favourite single malts and how to cocktail with them.

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A whisky lovers’ road trip

New transnational trail showcases world-class single malts from the Pacific Northwest

On the Vancouver Island leg of the trail, sippers can discover drams from Goldstream, Macaloney’s and Shelter Point distilleries. Reece Sims photo

Whisky enthusiasts have a new reason to raise a glass with the launch of the Northwest Whiskey Trail. The trail, which takes visitors on a journey to some of the best single malt distilleries in the Pacific Northwest, is set to become a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists alike.

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Eye openers: 4 great brunch cocktail pairings

Brunch provides a palette for a myriad of cocktail pairings. Reece Sims photo

There’s just something about bringing people together for brunch that captures hearts and palates. Perhaps it’s the enticing blend of savoury and sweet flavours, endless beverage options, and a leisurely atmosphere that creates undeniable allure.

I was especially inspired by the brunches I enjoyed on a recent visit to Scottsdale, Arizona, for a bachelorette party weekend. Mostly I was inspired by one particular brunch at the W Scottsdale’s Cottontail Lounge. The hotel is situated in the heart of the city, with the Fashion District a few minutes west, Old Town a few minutes south, and the Entertainment District at its doorstep.

Best of all? The brunch cocktail pairings. Here are four to try.

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The cocktail matchmakers

Nikka brings Coffey, chemistry, and collaboration to Vancouver Cocktail Week

Nikka’s Coffey range demonstrates the versatility of the column still. Photo courtesy of The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co.

When B.C.-based importers Enoteca Bacco first approached the Nikka Whisky Distilling Co. to participate in Vancouver Cocktail Week, it was an immediate and enthusiastic “yes.”   

“We wanted to create a unique experience … and add excitement for the people of Vancouver,” says Naomi Kamiyama, the global marketing and sales department representative for Nikka Whisky. “The first thing that came to mind was to bring one of our favourite bars, Bar Trench, to Vancouver. We also knew that The Keefer Bar is one of the most amazing bars in the world, and if these two fantastic bars could collaborate, their chemistry would deliver something memorable.”

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New wine-cask finished Irish whiskey features pinot noir from B.C.

Quails’ Gate becomes the first Canadian winery to collaborate with Green Spot Irish Whiskey, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

Photo courtesy of Green Spot Irish whiskey

What do Irish whiskey and Pinot Noir wine from the Okanagan have in common? Until this week, not much, aside from both being aged in oak barrels. Regardless of if you’re a whiskey enthusiast, oenophile, local business supporter, or just want to pick-up a bottle of Irish whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a new wine-cask finished whiskey now available that offers something for everyone; until it’s gone, that is.

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The brandy re-brand

B.C.’s craft distillers breathe new life into an old spirit

A number of B.C. wineries, cideries and distilleries have recently released small-batch, terroir-driven brandies—and they’re good, really good. Reece Sims photo

Over the last few decades, brandy has developed a branding problem. Not the Brandy who rose to fame with hits like The Boy is Mine in the late 1990s; rather, the once-venerable tipple that today is often seen as old fashioned, dull and enjoyed exclusively by the elderly.

Perhaps you’ve had it before in your grandma’s flamed Christmas pudding, drunk an occasional Sidecar at a hip cocktail spot or heard a reference to it in a Drake or Megan Thee Stallion song. 

But outside of Cognac—a sub-category of brandy that has been embraced and promoted by the rap community—brandy has not been an intuitive or even conscious choice for most Gen Xers, millennials or Gen Zers.

Despite its waning popularity, there seems to be a trend emerging in British Columbia that just might clutch brandy out of the doldrums and back en vogue. Whether coincidental or created through circumstance, a number of B.C. wineries, cideries and distilleries have recently released their own small-batch, terroir-driven brandies—and they’re good, really good.

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Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets. Reece Sims photo

Thought of as a riff on a Sidecar, this inspired classic is amped up with the use of some higher-ABV craft spirits.

0.75 oz Wayward Distillery Cask Strength Apple Brandy

0.75 oz Wayward Distillery Drunken Hive Rum

0.75 oz Sons of Vancouver Quadruple Sec

0.5 oz lemon juice

Garnish: orange or lemon zest

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French Connection

French Connection. Reece Sims photo

Named after the Gene Hackman film of the same name, this two-ingredient cocktail is easy to make and pairs wonderfully with dessert.

2 oz Maple Leaf Spirits Lady of the Cask brandy

0.75 oz Sons of Vancouver Amaretto

Garnish: lemon zest

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Sazerac. Reece Sims photo

Originating from New Orleans, the original Sazerac used Cognac as the base ingredient (it was later replaced with rye whisky). Apple brandy provides a smoother, more fruity base for this locally inspired iteration.

1 sugar cube

2 straws Ms. Better’s Bitters Aromatic Bitters

2 oz Forbidden Spirits Adam’s Apple Brandy

Rinse: Okanagan Spirits Taboo Absinthe

Garnish: lemon zest

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