vodka

Happy Birthday Long Table

LongTablePress It was just about a year ago that the first distillery to operate in Vancouver in a long time opened up on Hornby Street.  Long Table Distillery kicked off an exciting year for fans of locally-produced spirits, with five other distilleries opening in the lower mainland, and bringing our total to 14 in the province.

I sat down to talk with founder and distiller Charles Tremewen to find out how the year went.  I asked him what his biggest surprise was in the last year: "I have been amazed by how wonderful the fans are - once they recognize the products we produce. It's fantastic how appreciative people are of fine local spirits."

Long Table opened it's doors with a London Dry Gin and Texada Vodka, but has since added  other products, including an aquavit, a cucumber gin, and peppermint mist.  The year ahead promises more innovation.  Charles plans to continue to grow his product base, explore more BC ingredients, and look to collaborate with BC growers and producers.

Gin and Tonic Fridays

Another interesting question for me was how the addition of so many distilleries has impacted Long Table.  "We're seeing a shift due to the synergy of a growing awareness in Vancouver of distilleries," Charles said.  In this case, the competition appears to have been good for business.  This gets at the heart of our purpose at BC Distilled, with the idea that a broader general awareness is good for the distilling community as a whole.

Long Table recently got another first under their belt, with the launch of their tasting lounge, something the provincial government recently allowed.  Their first Gin and Tonic Fridays was held on Janruary 31, opening to a packed house, as well as a visit from Vij's Railway Express and Vikram Vji himself. This new option for distilleries promises to be a great way for fans to try the products and interact with the distillers -- we'll no doubt see Charles' colleagues follow suit in short order.

If you haven't yet, perhaps it's time to drop by, have a taste, and wish them a happy birthday. It's the first of a few birthdays fans of local spirits can celebrate in 2014.

Arbutus Distillery in Nanaimo

AurbutusDistillery2 Now that's a big still! Arbutus Distillery, housed in its own custom-built facility in Nanaimo, is getting close to putting its new 1000L still into operation, bringing a welcome addition to the BC distillery scene, and establishing themselves as Nanaimo's first craft distillery.

I had a chance to visit them over the holidays and meet with distiller Michael Pizzitelli to find out a little more about their plans and also see their impressive facility. Like a few of our other craft distillers in BC, Mike trained at Hariot Watt in Scotland.

Last year Arbutus Distillery made a splash together with their creative team at Hired Guns Creative when they released label designs for their Coven Vodka and The Empiric Gin, both of which generated a lot of attention.

The Tasting Room

The stills are in, regulatory waters have been mostly navigated, and they're  hoping to be up and running this spring. Out of the gate we'll see a vodka and gin to go with those fancy labels. Mike also has plans for an absinthe (Baba Yaga -- love those names), which will be the third produced in BC.

With that great building he's in there'll be some room to put some barrels aside for aging whisky, which is good news for our young local single malt industry.

This is another one to watch -- I'm looking forward to seeing what Mike will come up with.

 

Canadian Vodka Alternatives

The Mighty Vodka Column There has been a lot of news lately around Russia's agressive stance towards the LGBT community, especially in light of the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. One of the forms of protest that people have gravitated towards is the idea of boycotting Russian vodka (and specifically Stolichnaya, giving rise to #boycottstoli) .  He didn't come up with the idea, but Dan Savage has done a lot to promote and defend it.

Whether you feel a boycott is necessary or valuable, the fact is British Columbia and Canada produce all the vodka you need.  If you're a vodka drinker, you have no excuse: stay local and buy Canadian vodka:

British Columbia (also see our map)

Alberta

Yukon Territory

Ontario

Saskatchewan

Prince Edward Island

Newfoundland