In the past few years craft breweries have been getting a lot of attention. This is especially true in British Columbia, where another 15 – 20 craft breweries are estimated to open this year alone. But, this past week I had the opportunity to learn about another craft product that’s starting to gain a foothold in BC; craft distilleries. Defined by the BC Government as “one that uses 100% B.C. agricultural inputs, ferments and distills their product on site, and produces less than 50,000 litres annually”, the last few years have seen a boom in craft distilleries, with dozens of new producers entering the scene since 2013.
Gillespies Fine Spirits is an artisan craft distillery in Squamish, producing vodka, gin, Lemoncello and a couple of other tasty offerings. With a mantra of “Local Awesome Booze”, proprieters Kelly Ann Woods and her husband John McLellan, strive to make sustainable products, inspired by locally obtained ingredients.
So why support local craft distilling? Well, much like the recent movement toward other locally made products, it just makes sense. Canada is a country of abundant resources including everything we need to make some pretty amazing spirits, not limited to rye and whiskey, but also gin and vodka. Buying locally made products, our carbon footprint is reduced and the local economy and farmers are supported. But, even if you’re not a huge proponent of the “Buy local” movement, there’s still one remaining fact that can’t be ignored: IT JUST TASTES BETTER. Like, incomparably better. Rather than being distilled in a large facility, designed to remove any inconsistencies and character alike, craft distillers take remarkable care to create a product that maintains it’s unique character. The result is a unique, delicious tasting product.
Set up in the teaching kitchen at Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store in Langley, Kelly (also a sommalier and mixologist) and John, walked us through a tasting of a few of their products, taught us about the distilling process and finished with a cocktail making demo (with samples, of course).
Here are a few of the recipes that Kelly was shaking up for us (NOTE: All ingredients are meant to be added to suit your own taste, therefore no measurements are included)
Chili Lime Shrub
Raspberries or Strawberries
Basil or Mint
Strawberry Black Pepper Shrub
Grapefruit, Fennel and Radish Caipiroska:
Orange Kaffir Shrub
Gillespies V-Twin Vodka