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10 things you need to know about…artisan spirits in British Columbia.

A boom in micro-distilleries is great news for travellers who like to savour local drinks, from gins to single malts and more.

01 October 2014

Suggested tweet: Gin, vodka, absinthe + more: 10 great BC micro-distilleries to savour #explorecanada

From artisan absinthe to small-batch whisky, micro-distilleries are making unique new spirits for creative cocktails or sipping by themselves. Tax breaks for small distillers that use local ingredients have triggered a boom in small-batch brands.

Here are 10 spirited spots to stop for a taste of locally-crafted BC liquors.

1)Pure spirits = no hangovers: At Island Spirits Distillery on Hornby Island, an icebreaker captain and a chemistry professor have joined forces to create Phrog vodka and gin, the latter a distinctive mix of 14 botanicals.

2)Fit for a queen: It’s an alluring and youthful Queen Victoria on the label of Victoria Spirits’ namesake gin, Canada’s first premium small-batch gin. Try its Oaken Gin, aged in American oak, and its nutty Left Coast Hemp Vodka, too.

3)An apple brandy a day: Vancouver Island’s Merridale Cider has a new German still for making its 100% fruit vodka, pear brandy and signature Cowichan Cider Brandy, aged in French oak and made to swirl in a snifter.

4)Field-to-flask single malt: Shelter Point Distillery near Comox, BC, still keeps its single malts in the barrel, but offers tastes of its Still Master single-malt vodkas at its beautiful facility.

5) Spirited spuds: The Pemberton Valley near Whistler, BC, has long been known for potato production. Now Pemberton Distilleryis using that local bounty to create organic sipping spirits, from its velvety Schramm potato vodka to London Dry Gin to Devil’s Club Absinthe.

6)Spirits in the city. Long Table Distillery is Vancouver’s first micro-distillery, creating small-batch gins and vodkas, including a fresh cucumber gin and woodsy London Dry. Sip a drink at the long, hand-hewn table on Gin & Tonic Fridays.

7) Spooky spirits: Head to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to taste the Coven Vodka from Arbutus Distilleries, a malted, barley-based spirit in a spooky glow-in-the-dark bottle.

8)From the lounge to you: Odd Society Spirits’c raft-certified East Van Vodka, elderflower and rose-infused Wallflower Gin, as well as its Mongrel “white lightning,” are available for sale or tasting direct from the Powell Street tasting lounge.

9)First to break the taboo: Kelowna’s Okanagan Spirits was the first to craft traditional fruit brandies and schnapps from fallen BC fruit and break the ban on absinthe with its popular Taboo. It has since branched out into vodka and single malt whisky.

10)Learn the craft of distilling: At Urban Distilleries in Kelowna, former engineer Mike Urban offers five-day workshops to teach you how to make vodka, gin and whisky.

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