BC Distilled celebrates local craft spirits, from gin and vodka to amaro and absinthe

The sixth annual festival features 180 spirits by producers from throughout B.C.

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      BC is getting into the spirit of spirits. To celebrate, the annual BC Distilled is taking place on Saturday (April 6), where people will be able to taste 180 types of artisanal gin, whisky, vodka, rum, brandy, vermouth, amaro, absinthe, and more from a total of 40 distilleries.

      Also on the table are eaux de vie, liqueurs, and young whiskies—whisky-style spirits that have spent less than three years in a barrel.

      Having launched in 2014, the festival is the largest spirits event in Canada dedicated exclusively to local distilleries. 

      The distilling scene in B.C. has exploded ever since the BC government established two categories of distilleries--commercial and craft--in 2013. To achieve the craft designation, a distillery can produce no more than 50,000 litres of spirit per year. It must also use 100 percent BC agricultural products to produce the alcohol from fermentation.

      While a few years ago there was only a handful of distillers throughout the province, now there are dozens, from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan to the Kootenays, with more to come. The trend is just starting.

      Participating at BC Distilled are Forbidden Spirits, Legend Distilling, Merridale, Monashee Spirits, Pemberton Distillery Inc., Tumbleweed Distillery, Tofino Distillery, and Yaletown Distilling Inc., among others.

      Staff members from every distillery, often the distillers themselves, will be at the event, pouring samples and answering questions.

      Restaurants serving food throughout the evening include Timber, Juniper Kitchen and Bar, Whisky Six BBQ, Rootside Provisions, and H2 Rotisserie & Bar.

      A charity auction will take place in support of Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS), which breeds, raises, trains, and supports certified assistance dogs for people living with disabilities and community care professionals.

      It all goes down at the Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Drive) from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets, $69.99 plus fees and taxes, are at bcdistilled.ca/tickets.