Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Victoria Spirits

Address: 6170 Old West Saanich Road
Phone: (250) 544-8217
Price: $5 tasting, waived if you buy one of their $25-50 bottles
Notes: Canada's "first premium gin" wood fired in small batches right here on the peninsula

We have been meaning to visit the Victoria Gin distillery for yonks and yonks. It's just that far off our beaten path that it took being in the area and having some time to kill to finally put us in a position to learn a little bit more about the distilling process. I have a huge affection for this gin - firstly because I Adore gin and secondly because it's fancy, tasty and it's local! Not sure why we waited so long - the whole thing is just so casual and friendly and you can invest exactly as much or little time as you want so it fit neatly into our day despite not being planned at all.

The whole operation is crazy small for the amount of neat stuff they produce! It's pretty much a garage with some really expensive equipment in it. They started distilling gin in 2008 and apparently were the first 'boutique' gin in Canada. I remember snagging some at the time because at the time they weren't sure if it would continue or not (or at least, that was the public declaration). Since then they have expanded to several different varieties of distilled things and upwards of 20,000 units in sales of the gin alone if I have my numbers remembered correctly (which is rare, so don't quote me on that please). It's totally worth it to visit - the downstairs tour is pretty cool and the upstairs tasting is just as good, if not better.

They are working on a whiskey (the very thought of which has my partner-in-food-and-life writhing in anticipation) and I'm sure there are other interesting treasures between now and the first potential tasting date for the whiskey (three years hence).

Buy a deck of deals & get a free tour and tasting for a group of 6 or less at Victoria Spirits! 

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August 13, 2011
I was pretty stoked by the information we got from Phil (who turns out to be the husband of the chef from Paprika... oh Victoria, you are so incestuous). Mostly, though, I loved the distilling machine. It was so sexy and steampunk. It was dripping liquor through chambers like a drunken rain machine and the end result was pure, beautiful 'hearts' (aka the awesome part of the gin) pouring out. A fountain of ginny deliciousness, I love it!

I was also impressed by Pam upstairs, who turned out not to even be the regular staff person but I never would have known that if we hadn't pried to find out! We had a lovely sampler of each of the spirits and by the end my taste buds were a bit over loaded from all the different sensations. It was well worth it.

August 13, 2011

The tasting flight upstairs includes a sample of each of their products:
  • Hemp vodka
  • Pinot Eau de Vie
  • Merlot Eau de Vie
  • Oaken Gin
  • Gin
  • Twisted & Bitter bitters

We ended up walking away with some merlot Eau de Vie. To be honest I feel like I enjoyed the Pinot a little bit better, but I wasn't the one with spare cash so I was outvoted.

So this Eau de Vie is wine that has been distilled (however according to wikipedia eau de vie can be made from most any kind of fruit). The pinot is apparently like grappa, and the merlot like brandy (minus the cask/colouring step).

Re-tasting some now with a 'clean' (ish...) palate. It's strong, there's no doubt about that! Can totally taste the fruit flavours, but also something with a bit of bite, like spearmint. I'm just terrible at the whole 'it tastes like...' thing (mostly because I just can only taste pretentious when I do it unless it's really obvious).


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