Spirits enthusiasts are finding their new Eden 15 minutes from downtown Kelowna at Forbidden Spirits Distilling Co.
Blair Wilson and his wife Kelly purchased the 20-acre orchard in 2010. “I moved to Kelowna to retire,” Wilson said with a laugh. “That lasted about as long as it took to build our house.”
Wilson wanted to do something meaningful with the 300 apple trees on his land and considered creating a cidery. A chance meeting at a Seattle whisky convention changed his mind.
“I met the manufacturers of Kothe distilling equipment and was enamoured by their passion and knowledge,” Wilson said. “It didn’t take long to be convinced that a distillery was the best use for our apples.”
Wilson signed up for a course at Kothe’s Chicago location to learn the ins and outs of how to run the complex equipment. Then he flew to Stuttgart, Germany to order his specially made tanks. The 28-foot-tall copper still commands attention from the moment you set foot in the contemporary and well-designed tasting bar.
“Vodka has been made from apples in Germany for more than 150 years, so I was confident I was learning from the best,” Wilson said. “But the proof is in our products. Most commercial vodkas are made from grains and distilled two to six times. Our vodka is distilled 25 times and you can really taste the difference. It’s also gluten-free and sugar-free. It starts with apples and stays with apples.”
The first batch of Forbidden Spirits’ Rebel Vodka was made in 2019, shortly before the luxe 5,500-square-foot tasting room opened its doors. Forbidden Spirits quickly made its mark on the local food and beverage industry and was soon nominated for a Best of Kelowna award.
The product line has expanded to include Adam’s Apple Brandy and Eve’s Original Gin, which is infused with 10 local botanicals, including lavender from the nearby Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm. Their ultra-premium Forbidden Vodka is distilled 50 times for exceptional smoothness.
“We have done blind taste tests and win every time,” Wilson said. “Farm-to-flask is more than a moment, it’s a movement.”
Forbidden Spirits recently partnered with a local farmer to provide the necessary mash for their Wallace Hill white whisky. Those who might prefer the oak-aged version can make their own whisky at home with a unique two-bottle-sized whisky barrel that produces perfectly aged whisky in just three months.
Adjoining the tasting room, Forbidden Spirits boasts a large patio and picnic area for outdoor tastings. The distillery is open seven days a week. Appointments are required Monday through Friday, with walk-ins permitted on the weekend.
Visit forbiddenspirits.ca to book your tasting or to learn more.
A fall from grace never tasted so heavenly.