The Spirit World of Vancouver

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Photo from the Odd Society Spirits website

Given the recent changes to regulations involved with British Columbia liquor laws, the province is now bearing witness to an explosion of distillers launching innovative ventures, particularly around the Lower Mainland.

This evolution in policy moves to allow distillers to be legally able to sell spirits at farmers’ markets and secondary tasting rooms, as well as in grocery stores. The changes also include a more open approach to the universally popular happy hour.

Target objectives around these government mandates include growth of the local economy and an increased focus on British Columbia as a travel destination. What this means for visitors and Vancouverites alike is a thriving craft distillery scene that better supports local entrepreneurs in successfully producing and marketing small batch spirits.

These distillers have risen from a range of backgrounds, but they all share a common vision in creating quality liquor from the best ingredients that the province has to offer.

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Photo from the Odd Society Spirits website

Odd Society Spirits
1725 Powell Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Phone: (604) 559-6745

After studying distillation at Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, Founder and Distiller Gordon Glanz recently launched this East Vancouver outpost, along with General Manager Miriam Karp, and Production Manager and Distiller Joshua Beach.

Customers are able to visit the distillery in order to purchase bottles of whiskey, vodka and gin, and can also to sample a superb menu of cocktails that serve to highlight the orchestrated mix of old world distilling traditions with new world ingredients.

With a vision to support and celebrate our individual oddness (hence the name), Odd Society Spirits speaks to distinct personalities, both as a creative distillation collective and as a tableau of intriguing products.

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Photo from the Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers website

Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers
Unit 170 – 2270 Dollarton Hwy.
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Phone: (604) 770-1136

Co-Founders Shae de Jaray and Shawn Bethune launched their distillery in this extraordinarily scenic area of Vancouver in an effort to reflect lifestyles that maintain a laid back focus on fun. Spirits on offer include Deep Cove vodka and a rosemary and olive gin that is brisk and refreshing. Limited edition releases include Ahab gin, which includes a hint of oysters, a French-style absinthe, along with an espresso vodka.

You are able to mix and mingle with the Deep Cove staff in the tasting room, along with a roster of events throughout the city. If you’re looking for creative ways to incorporate the product, there are also a selection of recipes on the website.

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Photo from the Liberty Distillery website

The Liberty Distillery
1494 Old Bridge Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Phone: (604) 558-1998

A recent addition to Granville Island, this outpost opened in 2013 and offers premium products made from 100% British Columbia grain. The spirits are distilled on site in custom handmade copper stills by German Master Christian Carl, and the process incorporates responsible environmental and social practices.

There is also a focus on community and connection, as the staff invites customers to pull up a chair in the tasting room in order to glean a bit of distillation history, while forming new ties over an expertly mixed signature cocktail. Tours can also be arranged for $10 a head, and run on Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm and 3pm (groups are capped at a maximum of 10 people, and reservations are required at least a week in advance).

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Photo form the Sons of Vancouver website

Sons of Vancouver
1431 Crown Street
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Phone: not listed

Set to open in the fall of 2014, this distillery recently took part in BC Distilled, an annual event with a focus on locally conscious drinking. This year, the sold-out exhibition showcased 17 distilleries from across the province (and one from Yukon), a food-tasting bar, along with a range of mixes and bitters for expert cocktail making and shaking.

It was at this recent BC Distilled event that I was able to sample the amaretto and the spicy chili vodka by the Sons of Vancouver, which were both delicious. If you’re interested in funding the tasting room for this new venture, keep your eye out for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign that will serve exactly this purpose.

Photo from the Long Table Distillery website

Photo from the Long Table Distillery website

Long Table Distillery
1451 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Phone: (604) 266-0177

Existing as the first distillery in Vancouver, this location maintains the practice of small-batch processing for unique gins, vodkas and seasonal spirits that include nearby sourcing and sustainability. All of the ingredients used, right down to the water from our glorious west coast mountain range, are locally produced and gathered. The spirits are seasoned with everything from cucumbers from the Sunshine Coast to delicate blends of quality botanicals.

Along with the other venues, there is a tasting room, series of events (many of which involving local food trucks), including gin and tonic Fridays weekly from 4 – 9pm.

While this is a mere sampling of distilleries in the area, those with a bit of time to explore the region will find that there are spirits rising from all areas of the Lower Mainland. Touring and sampling products from these venues will touch the senses and inspire discovery – a welcome contemporary haunting for  a refined palate.

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