Why BC is leading Canada’s craft distilling enlightenment with gin

Gin in all of its dark, twisty history, does not have much of a legacy in Canada. Despite this, British Columbia is bursting with distilleries that are straight up developing some great gins. Recent changes in liquor laws favoring craft distilleries and a unique desire to showcase the amazingness of the region have culminated in an environment ripe for gin creation that is leading gin production in Canada.

Arbutus Distillery Empiric Gin

This is a gin that hasn’t really been on my radar until now. To be honest I have a slight mistrust for flashy packaging – I may be a bit of a purist in that I think a gin should stand on its own. Despite my inherent distrust though, I have tasted some great gins with obvious effort having gone into branding and packaging, and have been suitably impressed with the quality of the gin. This brings us to Empiric Gin.

Wayward Distillation House Unruly Gin

It’s hard to argue with the fact that bees are awesome. They pollinate plants to help make new plants, and they make both beeswax and honey. Honey, as it turns out, makes really good gin. Of course, regardless of the type of base spirit used, the distiller orchestrates the flavor profile. Wayward Distillation House, based in the Comox valley on Vancouver Island, does a great job of this with their spectacularly unique Unruly gin. Unruly gin uses honey spirit as a base and adds classic botanicals along with one or two twists to produce a smooth, pleasantly sweet and distinctive gin.

Victoria Spirits Gin

When I returned from the UK in Dec 2012 I was ecstatic to find out that a premium, small-batch gin was being produced locally in Victoria, BC. In 2008 the Victoria Spirits distillers set out to interpret gin in a more modern way, combining their love of Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray gin with their collective backgrounds in science, bartending and in the culinary world to produce a beautiful, distinct, new “modern” gin.  Arguably they were the first in Canada to bring a gin with such an innovative flavor profile to the market, paving the way for the local gin market to expand creatively.

Sipsmith London Dry Gin

I can’t help but be partial to Sipsmith London Dry Gin – it was the gin that started my love for gin in the first place. Paralleling my developing gin crush, on a bigger scale, Sipsmith was one of the major contributors to the start of the UK artisan, small batch gin craze when they opened 2009, being the first copper pot distillery to start up in London since 1820. Bashing through legislation difficulties and liquor laws, they started up with a successful business model that revolves around the quality of their spirit and sharing their love and pride in their own hand made spirits, which has subsequently led into a flood of small batch, hand-crafted gins entering the market.