BC Distilled 2018 Recap

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Audience Favourites

  • Amaro or Vermouth (Italian-style bitter liqueurs): The Woods Spirit Co. - The Woods Amaro
  • Apéritif or Digestif: Sheringham Distillery - Sheringham Akvavit
  • Brandy or Eau de Vie: Maple Leaf Spirits Inc. - Lady of the Cask
  • Barrel-aged Gin (Gin which has spent time aging in a wood barrel): The Dubh Glas Distillery - Noteworthy Gin - Barrel Rested
  • Flavoured or Infused Vodka: Sons of Vancouver Distillery - Chili Vodka    
  • Liqueur: Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery - Big Mountain Creamer
  • Gin: Ampersand Distilling Company - Ampersand Gin
  • Other White Spirit: Salt Spring Shine - Apple Pie Moonshine
  • Rum: Wayward Distillation House - Drunken Hive Rum
  • Vodka: Ampersand Distilling Company - Per Se Vodka (tie), Salt Spring Shine - Hive Vodka (tie), Sons of Vancouver Distillery - Vodka Vodka Vodka 
  • Whisky: Odd Society Spirits - Single Malt Whisky
  • Young "Whisky" (whisky-style spirits which have spent less than three years in a barrel): De Vine Wines & Spirits - Ancient Grains

Survey Insights

Food

This is always a big topic in your comments. We had four great restaurants this year, and I think they provided more food that in past years. I also brought in food trucks for people to feed themselves before the show, which most of you appreciated (some didn't like them there). Some additional points:

  • I will bring the food trucks back next year. I purposefully didn't ask them to stay for the length of the event because I didn't want to manage a lot of in an out, but I'll think about it for next year. I may also bring in a third truck.
  • I understand the desire some participants have for more veggie/vegan options. I'll keep trying, but it's not easy (especially vegan).
  • The cost and effort of bringing in restaurants means there will never be enough food for some people at BC Distilled (sorry!). For me to ensure everyone could eat their fill would mean I would have to increase the ticket cost by $20-30 per person to cover my costs. I'm pretty sure no one wants that.

Things You Liked

  • Return to the original glassware: Generally people appreciated bringing back the shot glasses. The Glencairn glasses some attendees had didn't go unnoticed by many of you, and I got a few comments that they should be provided to everyone. I did offer them for sale, but it wasn't super obvious on the ticketing page. Unless I get some amazing sponsorship these won't become standard -- they're just too expensive (literally 10x the price of the shot glasses).
  • PADS dogs: half the comments were about the dogs. I have no plans to abandon that relationship. This year we raised nearly $6,000!
  • No tokens: this is another thing that I do not intend to change. I personally dislike events that use them, so why would I run one that way? Also, I believe people actually drink less when their samples don't cost extra (they are more willing to pour out stuff they don't like, and have no incentive to drink more to 'use up' paid tokens).
  • Less crowded: we had more distilleries this year, so I had to reduce the number of attendees to meet fire code requirements. However, I reduced it a little more than I needed to, and I think it worked out really well. I'll keep the numbers the same next year.

Things you want to see changed

  • Longer event: some people asked for more time. A couple of years ago I increased the tasting from 2.5 to 3 hours (that came with a $10 price increase). I'm not convinced I want it to go longer, if for no other reason than it just increases the likelihood of people getting too drunk.
  • Speeding up liquor purchases: I'll talk with the vendor about this (by the way I can't allow distilleries to sell directly - that's the rules), but I know it's a difficult thing to manage.
  • Music: a few of you would like live music (or a DJ). There was music over the speakers but it was difficult to get the volume right for a few reasons. There are some challenges here - there are two rooms, so ... two bands? Or one room gets shafted? And it's an extra cost I'm not eager to take on - the festival isn't a massive financial operation, and adding that cost without a way to pay for it would be difficult.
  • Products listed in the program: The challenge here is (1) the last minute nature of finalizing those products, and (2) the extra printing cost. Next year I'm going to look at going electronic. There's got to be an app for that.
  • More of spirt X: A note for those who wanted more whisky or more amaro or weren't happen that some spirits weren't for sale -- this is entirely out of my control. The distilleries decide what products to bring, and what products to sell. 
  • Comments on the location: this is an area where I don't have a lot of options. There are a slew of things that go into finding a location. The Croatian Cultural Centre is a pretty good location that meets all of the festival's needs. Hotels don't work. The Convention Centre won't even return my calls. I have spent dozens of hours trying to find other options with no luck. Do you have any great ideas? I'm all ears!

A Couple of Other Notes