The return to a more “social” world sees the return of some of my favourite events, such as BC Distilled. This is Canada’s premier artisan distillery event. Not only is it a great way to acclimate yourself to all the new and upcoming spirits made in BC. But it also serves as a way to hob nob with industry professionals and ask them all your burning questions surrounding their stills and production.
2022 sees BC Distilled’s return and its 7th annual edition, made into a smaller capacity tasting. Scaled down to ensure everyone’s comfort with adequate spacing, and less vendors in participation, split across afternoon and evening sessions. You hop from booth to booth, trying all the spirits or just your favourites. Spit buckets are available, but if you pace yourself and take small enough sips you can swallow them all. Some served their spirits as is, others crafted them into mini cocktails. The booths that took the time to decorate garnered the most attention. And those that medalled had the lengthiest waits to taste.
As taken from the official press release, “In addition to many long-time participants, several new distilleries will be joining the event this year to pour samples of their locally made spirits – approximately 140 spirits in all, poured by 30 distilleries and exhibitors.” The main festival took place Saturday, April 9, at the Croatian Cultural Centre. And I was able to get in first at the trade tasting session, before it opened to the general public.
“With so much time passing since the last show (the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the pandemic), spirits fans had a tremendous number of new offerings to sample. Over the past three years, these distilleries have continued their steady progress in releasing a huge variety of outstanding spirits. They have a lot to show for themselves since 2019.”
“There is/was also an accompanying Distillers Dinner at Forage, featuring an extraordinary terroir-based 5-course meal alongside specially paired cocktails and spirit samples from participating distilleries.”
“Not only does this exclusive event connect diners to farmers, fishers and foragers in our region via Executive Chef Wilbert Choi’s dishes; it also allows a selection of exemplary artisan spirits to be enjoyed as part of a complete culinary experience, simultaneously elevating both what’s on the plate and what’s in the glass.”
Here are some of my photo highlights from the trade tasting session, along with results from the “Audience Favourite” Awards. From a selection of nearly 150 spirits, attendees have casted their votes for the coveted “Audience Favourite” awards across 12 categories.
As voted by attendees , BCDistilled’s “Distillery of the Year,” went to Fernie Distillers. What a way to mark their first time at BC Distilled. Having had their lavender liqueur and fully enjoying it, I can vouch for the results.
Amaro or Vermouth: The Woods Spirit Co. – Amaro Chiaro
Barrel-Aged Gin: Odd Society Spirits – Wallflower Oaken Gin
Flavoured Gin: Wayward Distillery – Raspberry Gin Liqueur
Fruit Liqueur: Odd Society Spirits – Creme de Cassis
Gin: Ampersand Distilling Company – Ampersand Gin
Infused or Flavoured Vodka: Arbutus Distillery – Hibiscus Vodka
Liqueur: Bruinwood Estate Distillery – Spirited Horchata
Rare & Fine Other Spirits: Alchemist Distiller – Green Frog – Absynthe (Absinthe)
Vodka: Wayward Distillery – Unruly Vodka
Whisky: Shelter Point Distillery – Ripple Rock
White Spirit: Stillhead Distillery Inc. – Stillhead Distillery – Blackberry Rye’Shine
Young Whisky: DEVINE Distillery – Ancient Grains Quarter Cask
If you missed out on this year’s festivities, be sure to book mark the event for next year, to get a taste of all the up and coming spirits before they hit store shelves.