Lucky Vancouver Island is overflowing with new distilleries.
Here is a round up of a few of the new darlings, the lounges where you can find them and the stores where you can buy them.
After launching in 2014, Ampersand is already known for its gin which can be had at Little Jumbo, the new Northern Quarter and the slightly more remote Wild Mountain in Sooke. Ampersand Gin is my go to for a Martini – classic botanicals are used and it’s well balanced. The gin can be bought at the Duncan Market or if that’s too much of a trip our local Cascadia stores keep it in stock. Keep an eye out: Ampersand launched its Per Se Vodka at Art of the Cocktail and word is it will be available soon.
Most of the new distilleries are doing vodka and gin to start but Sheringham, located in Shirley, went in a different direction and has produced William’s White a clear (un-aged) whisky along with a vodka. Smith’s Pub, Brasserie L’école and The Churchill are serving Sheringham spirits and the go to stores are the either Spinnaker’s Spirit stores or the Cork and Barrel.
And then there is De Vine, an established vineyard, which has recently made a foray into the distillery world. Producing two styles of gin based on grapes, including barrel-aged New Tom Gin which riffs on what was an almost extinct spirit that is now making a comeback. Old Tom dates back to the 18th century but fell out of favour until recently (even Tanqueray has introduced one). It’s slightly sweeter and richer than regular gin and is certainly worth an exploration. It’s available at the distillery on Old West Saanich Road and I’m hoping to find it in cocktail bars soon.
You will find the spirits at other restaurants and private liquor stores but suggestions noted will give you a good jumping off point.