The Spirit World of Vancouver

1_Vancouver_Spirits

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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The Spirit World of Vancouver

Microbrew Crawl: 5 Places to Enjoy Craft Beer and Spirits in Vancouver

Yaletown Brewing

Yaletown Brewing

The microbrew revolution may have started in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but it’s reaching a peak north of the border in Vancouver.

Across the city, dozens of brewpubs and distillers offer visitors a chance to sip and savor artisan suds and spirits. Meanwhile, a new city bylaw allowing onsite lounges at breweries is opening up even more possibilities.

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Microbrew Crawl: 5 Places to Enjoy Craft Beer and Spirits in Vancouver

The Craft Distillery Craze Comes to Vancouver

Long Table Distillery

It was the Pacific Northwest that put craft beer on the map, with cities like Portland pioneering artisanal suds. Now Vancouver is leading the way in another craft renaissance, this time in distillery.

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The Craft Distillery Craze Comes to Vancouver

Inside Long Table Distillery – Vancouver’s First Craft Distillery

IMG_20130419_082742Is Vancouver getting a Distillery Row of its very own? Long Table Distillery, Vancouver’s first craft or “micro” distillery in decades, opened doors softly in February at 1451 Hornby Street.

I recently stopped by to taste their botanical gin and Texada limestone-filtered vodka. I also wanted to catch a glimpse of the Christian Carl copper still: a gorgeous, shiny beast visible behind their tasting counter.

Although I was imbibing at 11am, nobody judged. Owner Charles Tremewen was on hand to guide my tasting and tell his story. Charles and wife, Rita, were inspired to start the business after a romp in Portland’s legendary Distillery Row. Charles has a background in local, sustainable businesses and a fine appreciation for a dry martini. In short: he didn’t see why Vancouver–with access to crystal clear mountain water and BC inputs like foraged juniper, wild ginger and mountain ash–didn’t make its own small-batch, locally-sourced spirits.

Long Table currently retails two spirits from their distillery and tasting room. Their best, in my opinion, is the London Dry Gin which runs $50 for 750ml. It’s robust, infused with with eight botanicals including the obvious juniper, with lesser notes of coriander and citrus, and floral hints from additions such as angelica, pepper and fennel.

The Texada Vodka ($45 for 750ml) stands up to sipping neat, although it would perform in a cocktail. It’s got a heavier mouth feel than your typical vodka, with a whisper of lemongrass and a mineral finish that comes from being filtered through limestone from B.C’s Texada Island.

You can try them by visiting Long Table on Fridays and Saturdays between 12 noon and 6pm. The tasting part is free.

Go behind the scenes at Long Table Distillery after the jump.

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Inside Long Table Distillery – Vancouver’s First Craft Distillery