Meet some of B.C.’s women distillers, a group so small it begs the question: Why are there still so few?
March 8, 2020, likely passed in a blur for Shelly Heppner. Around International Women’s Day, she was firing up her brand-new stills to produce Virtue Vodka and Jezebel Gin at Bespoke Spirit House in Parksville, which received its distilling green light in February. “Gin is such a vixen! I do want to have a couple of different gins that will have female-oriented names,” says Heppner, who also plans to make small-batch eaux-de-vie from Vancouver Island fruit.
Co-owner with her husband Andrew Hayden, Jillian Rutherford is one of the few female distillers in B.C. They established Fernie Distillers in 2006 in a historic building in downtown Fernie, where they produce small-batch spirits inspired by their vibrant community.