In January, a B.C. craft whisky was named the country’s best for the first time in the 13-year history of the Canadian Whisky Awards. The rye-based Palm Trees & A Tropical Breeze was only the third whisky released by Sons of Vancouver. But it offers an aromatic taste of the future for this North Van distillery better known (until now) for its amaretto and other liqueurs.
The craft spirits and beer scene is now booming in North Vancouver, particularly in the burgeoning Brewery District in Lower Lonsdale.
The North Shore will forever hold a piece of Canadian brewing history, as West Vancouver holds the distinction as the site of the country’s first ever microbrewery.
Horseshoe Bay Brewery started brewing beer for the nearby Troller Bay Pub in 1982, long before the craft beer boom exploded on the West Coast decades later.
Horseshoe Bay Brewery is no longer pumping out the suds on the North Shore – although it spawned some other B.C. breweries that are still very much alive – but in its place are now a dozen North Vancouver breweries, a number that seemingly rises each year.
A B.C. spirit comes out on top for the fifth consecutive year in the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition: cheers to DEVINE Distillery’s Ancient Grains, also the Best in Class Young Whisky.
The grains may be ancient, but a globally unique, made-in-B.C. whisky is making modern history: Ancient Grains from DEVINE Distillery in Saanich is the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year 2022.
The top-scoring spirit across every category of the national competition, Ancient Grains is also the Best in Class Young Whisky for the third time (so classified because it matures for less than three years, which is the minimum requirement for labelling as “Canadian Whisky”). The whisky was originally created by master distiller Ken Winchester in 2017, using B.C.-grown heritage barley, einkorn, emmer, spelt and kamut, and matured in smaller quarter-casks.
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.
Recipe by Gianluigi Bosco, head bartender at MARKET at the Shangri-la Hotel in Vancouver. Lost Horizon, of course, was the book and movie that introduced the world to the magical land of Shangri-la.
• 1.5 oz O5 Time Traveller tea-infused Sons of Vancouver vodka (see note)
• 1 oz semi-clarified fresh orange juice (see note)
• 0.5 oz Citrus Wine (recipe below)
• 0.5 oz Kopan Masala Syrup (recipe below)
• 5 dashes citric acid (available from gourmet shops)
• 1 egg white
• Angostura bitters, for garnish
Canada’s artisan distillers are bringing their own spiced heat to the party
Don’t look now, but Canada’s distillers have been gently plotting to spice things up for all you unsuspecting folks out there.
For instance, did you know that Fireball Cinnamon Whisky—which has taken off in a big way in the U.S.—has replaced Jägermeister as the masochistic shot of choice? It just doesn’t seem to be what you’d expect from a laid-back kind of land like Canada. But it turns out we Canucks were dabbling in pyrotechnic tippling well before its propulsion into pop-shot culture.