When news arrived that Sooke’s Sheringham Distillery had scooped Best Contemporary Gin in the World at the prestigious World Gin Awards, I, like so many others, was truly thrilled. After all, what an achievement for the relatively neophyte distillery perched on Canada’s wild and westernmost edge.
But there was also a personal connection, as the awards were judged at London’s Honourable Artillery Company, right across from where I used to stay at my Uncle Ricky’s apartment.
With elderflowers as early harbingers of summer, Sooke meets St-Germain in this house recipe from Sheringham Distillery.
• 1.5 oz Sheringham Seaside Gin • 0.5 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur • 0.25 oz maple syrup • 0.25 oz lemon juice • 0.5 oz loganberry or strawberry purée • 0.75 oz sparkling elderflower juice such as Bottle Green Garnish: Lemon peel
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.
While Sheringham Distillery’s new Red Fife Whisky is winning prizes in Canada, its original Seaside Gin is picking them up across the pond. The seaweed-infused spirit just took home the prize for Best Contemporary Gin at the World Gin Awards in London, UK.
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.
The challenges and benefits of making spirits in rural regions
What’s the flip side of the urban winery? That’ll be the rural distillery. Artisan distilling in British Columbia is on a roll, with some 60 distilleries in full operation, and at least a dozen more to open within the year (according to BC Distilled). While the Lower Mainland is home to many distilleries, there’s no shortage of them popping up in far-flung spots, from Shirley and Ucluelet to Wynndel and Wycliffe.
The Alchemist’s tasting panel searches for the best B.C. gin to enjoy with your tonic
Now that spring has finally sprung, we’re craving lighter sprits and fresher flavours. In other words, we’re craving gin, especially when it’s mixed with tonic water.
Our tasting panel comprising some of Vancouver’s top bartenders—Max Borrowman of Juniper Kitchen & Bar; Amber Bruce of The Keefer Bar; J-S Dupuis of Wentworth Hospitality (Tableau Bar Bistro, Homer St. Café); and Josh Pape of Gooseneck Hospitality (Wildebeest, Bells and Whistles, Bufala, Lucky Taco)—sampled nine B.C. artisanal gins, suggested the best cocktails to make with them, and then mixed them with tonic water to determine which worked best.
• 1.5 oz Odd Society Wallflower Gin • 0.5 oz Sheringham Akvavit • 0.4 oz Martini Bianco Vermouth infused with vanilla (see note) • 0.25 oz Rose Wintergreen syrup • 0.5 oz citric acid • 4 dashes Dillon’s ginseng bitters • Garnish: Lemon zest
Clear your schedule for the BC Distilled festival.
BC Distilled is the biggest artisan and micro-distillery event in Canada and a must for anyone interested in spirits and cocktails. It is April 14 at the Croatian Cultural Centre, with a trade tasting from 2 to 4:30 pm followed by the public event, 6 to 9 pm.