In its eight years in business, Okanagan Spirits has become recognized as a Master Distillery and has numerous domestic and international awards that lend credibility to that distinction.
Now, with a second high profile location – the original is in downtown Vernon – on Kelowna’s Bernard Avenue, Okanagan Spirits is enjoying the benefits of walk-in traffic, much of it attracted by the stylish setting and its appeal as a working distillery. The gleaming 250-litre copperpot still, the only one in the country, is an attention-grabber, as is the tasting room’s décor that includes reclaimed fir floorboards and beams and a 21-foot recycled glass tasting bar.
Marketing Manager Rodney Goodchild says the business is “an Okanagan story.”
“In a valley that is known for its fruit, there is the potential for a lot of waste,” he says. “We use fruit that might otherwise go to waste, not because it is bad but because it doesn’t look nice. That is something, unfortunately, that the consumer expects.”
Not all Okanagan Spirits line of 25 products rely solely on fruit to produce both the alcohol and the flavours, though. An award-winning gin uses the finest of botanicals. The expected juniper berry is in the recipe of course, but surprises include coriander, spruce and rose petal.
“It is a wonderfully soft sipping gin, but it also works well in cocktails or a classic gin and tonic,” Rodney says, adding a caveat that quality tonic water is as important as the gin in the popular drink. On your next visit, test the claim and we’re betting you will notice the difference.
Still, though, he says, “The fruit is our story.”
Okanagan fruit is used to make nine Eaux de Vie products, seven liqueurs and three Grappas from different grape varietals. For the adventurous, there is even Taboo Genuine-Absinthe, which includes the traditional Grande Wormwood.
~ Lorne Eckersley