Photo: Macaloney Distillers
Last week, the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) ended its two-week-long strike at liquor warehouses across BC—a relief for many Victoria bars and restaurants. The strike prevented alcohol from being shipped from distillers and wineries based outside the province to government-run and private stores, which then saw a limit on how much customers could purchase.
Some craft distilleries in BC reported a bump in sales. Now, with the BCGEU and government back at the bargaining table, things at liquor stores are back to how they were before the strike. But supporting local craft distillers is a trend that doesn’t have to change—in fact, Southern Vancouver Island has some of the country’s finest local distillers.
Their spirits aren’t your grandpa’s moonshine, either; it’s expertly crafted using some of the freshest local ingredients made by some of the best in the country. Here are some of our favourites.
In just 7 years, Sheringham has become an award-winning boutique distillery.
Beginning in Shirley in 2015, Sheringham moved to Sooke, and began honing in on some award-winning gin. In 2019, its Seaside Gin was named World’s Best Contemporary Gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards, and its Kazuki Gin is a unique blend of green tea leaves and Japanese cherry blossoms. The distillery also produces vodka and some tasty liqueurs, including rhubarb, coffee, or lemon.
Sheringham has become a top-shelf item at Victoria cocktail bars—and it might first catch your eye with its sophisticated slim glass bottle.
Moon Under Water—Victoria
If you’re in Victoria, you likely know Moon Under Water—the little brewpub and distillery that’s been painting the industrial rubble of Rock Bay beautiful for over a decade.
It’s a small but mighty operation that took home gold at the Artisan Distillers Canada awards for its Shaft Liqueur, and bronze for its whisky and vodka.
We all know shafts, right?
Well, the Shaft liqueur takes the popular cocktail to the next level, adding a bountiful blend of Moon-made espresso vodka, espresso, almonds, and cocoa nibs to an already popular recipe. Its whisky—the Antifogmatic Bliss Single Malt Whisky— is a smooth swig giving hints of dark cherry and caramel. Meanwhile, there’s an assortment of gin for every taste bud: blueberry, spruce tips, and citrus.
Cheers to 10 more years under the Moon.
DEVINE Distillery—Central Saanich
Starting in 2007, this family-owned-and-operated distillery has been pumping out one of the best South Island whiskies for several years now. After earning gold medals and Best in Class in 2019, 2020, and 2021, DEVINE Distillery took home the 2022 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year award with its Ancient Grains whisky.
The Saanich-made whisky combines cedar, caramel, and tangerine for a lemongrass and white pepper finish, and was recognized for the use—and taste—of local ingredients.
The taste doesn’t stop there, though. DEVINE will also age its whiskies in wine casks, giving the whisky a balance of spice and smoke and the dark fruit of a wine cask.
DEVINE has a stacked lineup of Brandies, and has a delightfully smooth honey whisky thanks to all the fantastic local honey on Vancouver Island.
Hopefully you’re familiar with Macaloney Brewer and Distillers for its award-winning whisky; if not, maybe it’s because it was recently in the news for being too good and too Scottish.
Regardless, its namesake creator, Graeme Macaloney, has been recognized numerous times for his craftsmanship. Since 2016, the Saanich Distillery has taken top prizes at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards, including World’s Best New Make and Best Canadian Single Cask Single Malt. In 2020, Macaloney was recognized at the World Whiskies Awards in London.
Its signature expression is the Glenloy—a rich aged whisky infused with plum, fruit cake, and oak.