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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Corpse Reviver No. 1

Corpse Reviver No. 1. Reece Sims photo

The lesser-known sibling of the Corpse Reviver No. 2, this spirit-forward classic cocktail is renewed with an all-local lineup of ingredients.

1 oz Alchemist Distiller Duke Apple Brandy

1 oz Merridale XXO Brandy

1 oz Esquimalt Wine Rosso Vermouth

1 barspoon simple syrup (optional; see note)

Garnish: orange zest, cherry

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A spirited selection at the BC Distilled 2019 Audience Favourites Awards

Odd Society’s Prospector Rye Whisky was voted the audience-favourite whisky at BC Distilled. Gail Nugent photo

They came, they sipped, they chose their favourites, ranging from a delicately herbal absinthe to a boldly spiced rye whisky.

Some 600 people descended on the Croatian Cultural Centre on April 6 for the sixth annual BC Distilled festival, highlighting the best of the province’s artisan spirits. Some 180 spirits from 39 distilleries were poured over two tastings, and at the end of it all, the audience voted for their favourites in 13 categories.

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