BC Distilled and Artisan Distilleries Partner for PADS Fundraiser

Proceeds from special bottles to benefit Pacific Assistance Dogs Society

Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) breeds, raises and trains fully certified assistance dogs for individuals with mobility and hearing disabilities and PTSD. Photo courtesy of PADS

BC Distilled—Canada’s largest spirits festival devoted exclusively to local artisan distilleries—remains on hiatus until 2022. But in the meantime, its organizers have partnered with five of the province’s top artisan distilleries to benefit a cause that has long been dear to their hearts.

Beginning Saturday, May 15, and for one month only, five limited-edition spirits will be made available exclusively from each participating distillery. $45 from each bottle sale will go directly to Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS), which breeds, raises and trains fully certified assistance dogs for individuals with mobility and hearing disabilities and PTSD.

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Big Flavours, Little Packages

B.C.’s small-batch distillers got crafty in this season, releasing new bottled cocktails, gift packs, special editions and other little goodies—from vermouth to liqueur—ideal for stuffing stockings, or treating yourself to new tastes.

Odd Society’s Joel McNichol with the distillery’s collection of limited edition brewery collab whiskies. Katharine Manson photo

Cocktail lovers have a whole back-bar of B.C. craft cocktails and spirits to taste this holiday season. Mini-bottle sets are a hot commodity: Shelter Point’s 12 Days of Christmas advent calendar sold out, direct from the distillery, in hours. More common are spirit trios, which you can break apart into three little presents, or sample without investing in full-size bottles. Sheringham’s gin trios sell out at Legacy Liquor Store, where Remy Letendre, the buyer for the extensive B.C. craft spirits section, says, “This year, I was excited to see a few brands take part in the ‘tri-pack’ Christmas selection. I think it’s a great way for these craft distilleries to get people to try a wider range of products. The early success of the Esquimalt vermouth tri-pack just shows how people are willing to branch out … for home bartending.”

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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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Monashee Ethos Gin for the Win

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.

Revelstoke’s Monashee Spirits won the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year award for their Ethos Gin. Marissa Tiel/Revelstoke Review photo

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.

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B.C.’s most spirited festival

Clear your schedule for the BC Distilled festival.

Jeff Grayston photo

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.

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Canada’s best artisan spirits announced

Sheringham Akvavit named Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year

B.C., which is home to almost 45 per cent of Canada’s artisan distilleries, took home the greatest number of awards, including the Artisan Spirit of the Year: Sheringham Distillery Akvavit. Lucy-Kate Armstrong photo

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.

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There’s new life in the old tomcat

Gin’s dark past comes to light as distillers go back to the drink’s barrel-aged roots

Early gin was stored and shipped in barrels, so it was naturally darker. Modern barrel-aging aims to add vanilla and spice complexity to gin’s botanicals. Dan Toulgoet photo

To the superstitious, a black cat is a bad omen. But to underground drinkers during Prohibition, spotting a sign depicting an old tomcat meant you’d hit the gin jackpot.

A precursor to the crisp and clear London dry gin, Old Tom gin was stored and shipped in wooden barrels, so it had a naturally darker hue. Sometimes it was sweeter or more resiny, thanks to the addition of sugar or, yes, turpentine. Swill or not, Old Tom was probably better than no Tom.

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Polynesian Strange Fellow

Justin Taylor’s Polynesian Strange Fellow. Oliver Harden photo

• 1.5 oz. Wayward Distilling Honey Rum
• 0.5 oz. orgeat syrup
• 0.5 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
• half a ripe banana
• 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
• 4 oz. Strangefellows Guardian White IPA

Put the banana into a cocktail shaker and muddle to a paste. Add everything except the beer, add ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain over fresh ice into a goblet. Top with Strangefellows Beer. Garnish with fresh banana slices.

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Wayward Distillation House

Elli Hart Creative photo

Situated in the fertile Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, Wayward Distillery crafts each spirit on a base of sustainable honey, supporting local agriculture while achieving an unparalleled silky-sweet flavour. Home to a tasting bar, visitors can see firsthand how the team ferments and distills their spirits on-site from a base of sustainable honey, mixed with grain.

Crowd favourites include Krupnik, an intoxicating toasted honey liqueur spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, raw vanilla and citrus peel; Drunken Hive Rum, an “aged rum for whisky drinkers” made from caramelized BC honey and aged in bourbon casks; and Depth Charge, an espresso and cacao bean vodka infusion incorporating fairtrade coffee and organic cacao nibs.

When Wayward first began distilling spirits, the distillery partnered with Golden Clover Apiary located in the Peace region of BC. The apiary cared deeply about the health and long-term sustainability of pollination, bees, and BC-grown agricultural produce. The more Wayward learned about the importance of pollinators, the more the distillers cared about their well-being.

Wayward cares so much in fact, that they’ve pledged to donate 1 per cent of all spirit sales to Pollinator Partnership Canada, a not-for-profit registered charity dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems through conservation, education, and research.

2931 Moray Ave, Courtenay

Read more about Wayward Distillation House:

Recipe: Polynesian Strange Fellow
Third Wave Terroir: Terroir spirits define B.C.’s flavours, culture and sense of place



• Smoked Drunken Hive Rum Cask strength, 750ml, 56.7% ABV
• Drunken Hive Rum – fermented from honey 750ml, 375ml, 42.5% ABV
• Krupnik – spiced honey liqueur 750ml, 375ml, 40% ABV, Also available in celiac safe version
• Raspberry Gin Liqueur 750ml, 375ml, 25% ABV
• Swallowed Anchor Bourbon – Limited quantities available Cask strength, 750ml, 55.91% ABV
• Depth Charge – Espresso and Cacao Bean Vodka Infusion 375ml, 33% ABV
• Elixir 151 – fermented from honey 375ml, 75.5% ABV
• Char #3, Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin – fermented from honey 375ml, 45.0% ABV
• Unruly Gin – fermented from honey 750ml, 375ml, 43% ABV
• Unruly Vodka – fermented from honey 750ml, 375ml, 40% ABV


Unruly Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Floral and earthy. Honey, new garden notes.
FLAVOUR: Sweetness from the honey with hints of vanilla.
FEEL: Full body, pleasant viscosity.
FINISH: Long, savoury.
BEST ENJOYED: Mixes well with basil, pineapple and lemon. Also fantastic neat, or on the rocks. Preferred olives for a Martini.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Unique vodka made from B.C. honey—a must try for those looking for something different. —Scott Barber, April 2016

Unruly Gin

FRAGRANCE: Juniper, and pine. Slight honey and sweet nose. 
FLAVOUR: Muted juniper, semi-sweet, white pepper on the palate.
FEEL: Thick, silky mouthfeel.
FINISH: Slightly bitter, with honeyed herbal finish.
BEST ENJOYED: Delicious in a Last Word; mix with citrus.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A sweeter, crowd-pleasing gin (not for London Dry fans). Use in cocktails. —Shaun Layton, July 2016

Depth Charge Espresso & Cacao Bean Liqueur

FRAGRANCE: Sweet coffee.
FLAVOUR: Deep off-dry cacao bitterness with coffee overtones.
FEEL: Thin and dry.
FINISH: Long lasting non-offensive bitterness.
BEST ENJOYED: On the rocks.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Not a sweet liqueur. A great balance of bitter and dry. —Robyn Gray, October 2016

Krupnik Spiced Honey Liqueur

FRAGRANCE: Cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, vanilla.
FLAVOUR: A beautiful fall day in a glass.
FEEL: Thick like a liqueur. I’d definitely cut it with a base spirit such as rum or bourbon.
FINISH: Warm, sweet, spicy. Yum!
BEST ENJOYED: Chill and sip on rocks or mix in a cocktail. Whiskey Sour using bourbon, Krupnik, lemon, chai and bitters.
THE BOTTOM LINE: These guys are doing everything right. —Scott Barber, February 2017

Bourbon-Barrelled Gin

FRAGRANCE: Surprisingly intense vanilla. Yum!
FLAVOUR: Citrus, with pleasant vanilla and earthy tones.
FEEL: Light, medium body.
FINISH: Spicy.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat or on the rocks. Try it in a Martini, Negroni or Corpse Reviver #2.
THE BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for a gin that isn’t juniper forward, this is for you. I love working with and drinking this product. —Scott Barber, July 2017