In a holiday season with some international supply-chain blips, shop local—and shop soon!—for B.C. small-batch spirts holiday gifts. Limited-edition and seasonal items sell out fast, so if you happen to miss out this season, get on e-newsletter lists or follow distilleries on social media to watch for the next drop, and be very nice (not naughty) until next year. Many items from last holiday season are bound to be available again, so check out last year’s guide, too.
Triticale could be the craft-spirit buzzword of 2019, thanks to the B.C. winner that tops the 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition, with six other B.C. distilleries winning best-in-class honours.
For the second year in a row, a B.C. small-batch spirit is the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. Monashee Spirits Ethos Gin from Revelstoke was not only the best-in-class Canadian gin, but scored highest of any entry in the entire competition. (Last year, Sheringham Distillery’s Akvavit from Vancouver Island claimed that honour.) And B.C. distilleries swept bragging rights in the whisky categories, showing promising maturity in our young industry.
Sheringham Akvavit named Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year
One hundred and seventy-five. That’s a lot of spirits to taste, especially when they range from akvavit to amaro to apple brandy.
But throughout December 2017, that just what I and seven other spirits experts from coast to coast did, sniffing, swirling, sipping and occasionally spitting, as we judged the inaugural Canadian Artisan Spirits Awards.
Truly handmade using a small homebrew mill and a pump, Mad Laboratory’s vodka is triple distilled and carbon filtered from Armstrong barley and Champagne yeast.
119-618 East Kent Ave., Vancouver
• Mad Lab Vodka
• Viking Vodka
• Mad Lab Gin6
• Mad Dog Single Malt White Spirit
• Chocolate Spiced Mad Dog Single Malt
• Kombucha Cordials
• Pre-mixed cocktails
Mad Lab Vodka
FRAGRANCE:Clean, light fragrance of sweet wheat, vanilla, and hints of doughy bread. FLAVOUR:Very smooth, lightly sweet with notes of black pepper, hint of vanilla. FEEL:Silky and dry. FINISH:Super clean, lightly creamy. BEST ENJOYED:Stirred, straight up with a twist. THE BOTTOM LINE:Brand new distillery, only the 4th batch made; Mad Lab nailed it. —Wendy McGuinness, July 2016
Mad Lab Gin
FRAGRANCE:Sweet and fruity. FLAVOUR:Clean and citrusy. FEEL:Tickling mouth-feel. FINISH:Spicy, biting. BEST ENJOYED:In a White Lady (gin, Cointreau, lemon). THE BOTTOM LINE:A six-botanical cucumber gin that is delicate and nuanced. Very clean tasting.—Robyn Gray, February 2017
Mad Dog Single Malt White Spirit
FRAGRANCE:A brewery in the morning. Lovely. FLAVOUR:Toasted pumpernickel bread. FEEL:Punchy, then round. FINISH:Honey. Long and sweet. BEST ENJOYED:As a sour. Heavy on the angostura, or even with 10 ml of amaro. THE BOTTOM LINE:Not sure about the white whisky trend, but this is a good indicator of the aged spirit Mad Dog will produce.—Josh Pape, October 2017