For decades, micro-distilleries have flourished in Europe. Now it’s BC’s turn. Thanks to recent changes in the BC liquor laws – small batch distillers can now sell to restaurants and lounges as well as at local farmers markets – we can boast of more than 30 artisan distilleries, including several on the island.
Craft distillers are using home-sourced products to make their spirits. Many are actually growing the crops they need. The attraction of homespun, authenticity is not lost on Nanaimoites. Locally made spirits are in high demand.
Wayward Distillation House in the Comox Valley is making its Unruly Vodka out of 100% BC clover honey. Blended with local glacier water and specialized yeast, the mash is left to turn into honey wine or mead. The Wayward still (the essential vessel in which liquids is distilled) is specifically designed to work with a honey spirit, gently heating the mead to release the alcohol vapours.
The result is quality vodka that has a touch of sweetness on the nose, a full bodied mouth feel with a smooth finish.
Another Vancouver Island favorite is Ampersand Gin. Established in 2011, this distillery is built on an organic farm in the Cowichan Valley. Its gin is fashioned from locally grown organic botanicals and organic BC wheat.
On the nose, the aromatic dry gin shows hints of juniper and lemon. The mouth feel is rich with a dry smooth finish. Enjoy it alone or in your favorite cocktail.
How you prepare these flavourful island-crafted spirits is purely a matter of subjective taste. Do you like your martini shaken or stirred? It’s entirely up to you. But here are some tips to create your perfect gin or vodka martini.
- Chill your glass for at least ten minutes.
- Measure the gin and dry vermouth into your shaker before you add your ice. The rule of thumb is two parts spirits to one part vermouth, but this is where it’s all about your own particular preference. Play with it until you have perfected your version. Try adding a dash of olive or pickle juice.
- Fill the shaker half way with ice.
- Shake or stir vigorously until the outside of the shaker shows signs of frosty condensation.
- Strain your martini into your chilled glass.
- Garnish with a lemon twist (peel only), or toothpick-skewered olives or pickled onions. Some people like a cucumber slice or even a dill pickle.
- At Lucky’s Liquor Store in Country Club Centre we take pride in supporting our local craft distillers. Boutique spirits from Vancouver Island distilleries include Arbutus, Merridale, Phillips Fermentorium, Still Master, Ampersand and Unruly. You’ll find them all at Lucky’s.