Circumstances beyond everyone's control might be preventing us from pulling up a chair or barstool at our local distillery right now, but that's all going to change at some point in the future.
And when it does, there will be no better way to celebrate than being prepared. We're not talking a walk down to Long Table Distillery (always enjoyable as that might be) but instead a battle plan for making the most, spirits-wise, of the country we live in.
To that end, get a head start on the future by pre-ordering the upcoming book The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert to Over 200 Distilleries and the Spirits they Make (From Absinthe to Whisky, and Everything in Between) by Davin de Kergommeaux.
As inferred by its title, the guide takes a Canada-wide approach to the reality that liquor production north of the 49th is no longer the sole domain of traditional Canadian brands like Canadian Club and Crown Royal. And that tastes have shifted beyond reaching for multi-national heavyweights like Absolut, Jim Beam, and Bombay.
The reality is that we increasingly live in a craft-obsessed world. Sure you can go to the ends of the earth (or your local liquor store) to track down a bottle of Absinthe Vieux Pontarlier from France, but the next time you're lucky enough to be on pristine Vancouver Island you can also pop into the Tofino Craft Distillery to sample its Psychedelic Jellyfish Absinthe—which might just have the coolest name on the market.
And Saronno, Italy might be the spiritual homeland of Amaretto, but it's no accident Sons of Vancouver has become a destination distillery in North Vancouver for its much-coveted No. 82 Amaretto.
Reached by the Straight, de Kergommeaux suggested that Vancouver has become a leader in Canada on the distilling front, but not without overcoming some considerable obstacles.
"Vancouver is really the epicentre for artisanal distilling in Canada, even though Ontario got going first," he said. "It took about a decade of lobbying but the BC government finally moved to support this new industry and that has really created a lot of opportunity for distillers. There are some wonderful spirits coming our of B.C. now. I am thinking of Nocinos, honey-based spirits, fruit brandies and all kinds of gins and whiskies. Tiny Sons of Vancouver distillery has a great cocktail program to support its off-the-wall approach to making spirits (and fabulous homemade stills). While at the other end of the scale, Goodridge and Williams are a full-on commercial distillery producing large volumes of really flavourful spirits. Vancouver really is a distilling leader nationally.
He added that Toronto isn't without its trailblazers and innovators.
"Mill Street Brewing was the first to succeed making spirits there," de Kergommeaux noted. "They started with schnapps and now have gin and whisky as well. Of course Still Waters in the north end of the city was the provincial leader and have some very popular whiskies in Canada and the US. Ontario's distillers are spread across a huge province so don't have the same kind of energetic cohesiveness that we see in Vancouver and across BC. One Ontario spirit I really love comes from Dairy Distillery in Almonte. It is aptly named Vodkow because it is vodka made from milk and nothing else. And believe it or not, it's creamy."
Available on March 31, but available for pre-order now, The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries: The Portable Expert to Over 200 Distilleries and the Spirits they Make (From Absinthe to Whisky, and Everything in Between) has de Kergommeaux looking at 200 operations across the country, and how they're reshaping the way we drink.
The book promises geographically divided overlook at our country's distilleries, including profiles, routes and tour info, and features on both personalities and their creations.
The advance materials for the The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries also includes the following:
Just a decade ago, fewer than a dozen distilleries, concentrated in two provinces, produced almost all the spirits (mainly whisky) made in Canada. Today, there is a movement afoot in Canada's spirits world. There has never been a better selection of rich specialty spirits--from gin to moonshine, from flavoured vodka to liqueurs--to tempt the palate and supplement your long-time favourites. Despite flourishing public enthusiasm for Canada's distillers, other than incomplete and inaccurate web-based information, no one has offered consumers an all-inclusive guide... until now.