Okanagan Spirits, located next to the Paramount Theatre in downtown Kelowna is a visual treat. The warm fir floors and large square-cut beams recycled from the Laurel and Gellatly Bay packinghouses pay homage to Kelowna’s fruit growing and packing history. Behind the recycled glass tasting bar, elegant bottles of fruit-hued liqueurs and spirits line the glass shelf. A new 250-litre copper still gleams from the back of the shop.
Okanagan Spirits isn’t just a beautiful showroom. It’s a working distillery. For the past eight years the distillery has been operating in Vernon, using BC fruit – much of it from local growers – to make liqueurs and spirits.
Rodney Goodchild, Sales and Marketing Manager is excited about the new location. “We have a great story and a great theatre.” When the still is active, visitors can watch the distilling process – from fruit to liquid – through a series of windows and portholes. “As alcohol boils it vapourizes. It goes through the condenser, changes from a vapour to a liquid and we catch it in a bucket. From the bucket, it will be filtered and sometimes re-distilled depending on what it is. Or we’ll save it for a botanical product like gin or absinthe, that we’re adding herbs to.”
The tasting bar, Goodchild says is really what Okanagan Spirits is all about. Customers can sample spirits like European fruit brandies and traditional European schnapps. These are hard liquors, 40% alcohol, without sweetness. “You don’t add anything like coke or soda,” Goodchild insists. “It’s something you drink over ice.” The liqueurs, made predominantly from berries are sweet but not syrupy and explode with flavour over ice or ice cream.
In its stunning location at 267 Bernard Ave, just a stone’s throw from The Sails and Ogopogo, Okanagan Spirits offers locals and tourists a unique tasting and visiting experience.
~ Sue Harper