By now, the secret’s out about Vancouver’s burgeoning craft brewery scene. And B.C. wines have long been a favourite among discerning oenophiles. But did you know that Vancouver is also at the epicentre of Canada’s micro-distillery renaissance?
The number of craft distilleries in B.C. has doubled just in the past two years, from 18 to 34. Local distilleries are now turning out everything from gin and vodka to amaretto and whisky. And spirit lovers can sip and sample nearly all of their creations at the B.C. Distilled Festival, March 25-March 26 in Vancouver.
The third annual festival features nearly 30 B.C.-based artisan distilleries showcasing dozens of inspired spirits. The highlight: the Main Tasting Event, Saturday, March 26, at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre. Some 27 local distilleries will be on hand, pouring locally made gins, vodkas and brandies, as well as more unusual creations including honey-based spirits and bitter liqueurs like amaro. Also big this year are aged spirits, including gins that have been specially aged in barrels to give unique tasting profiles.
Servers will be pouring samples from all of the distilleries, and there’s even a special pop-up liquor store on hand so you can take home bottles of your favourites. But it’s not all about the booze. The festival’s partnering restaurants – including Forage, Edible Canada, The Union and others – will also be serving canapes specially prepared to complement the artisan spirits. At the trade tasting, you can even snack on donuts from Vancouver’s own Cartems prepared with Sons of Vancouver Amaretto and Longtable Gin. Tickets to the Main Tasting Event are $59.99.
Whisky lovers also won’t want to miss the festival’s Whisky Preview, March 25, at the Westin Bayshore (sadly, already sold-out at the time of writing). More than half of the province’s distilleries are in the process of making whiskies. The problem is that it takes a long time. To be called “whisky,” the spirit must be aged for at least three years in the barrel. Local distillers still haven’t reached that mark, but at the whisky preview they’ll be showing off their “younger” creations. Connoisseurs can sample these “soon-to-be” whiskies straight from the barrel at full cask strength (50%-60% ABV).