You’ve heard the word terroir used when talking about wine, but did you also know it’s a common term for whiskies, gins, liqueurs, and even vodka?
Okanagan Spirits were the first farm-to-flask distillery to open since way back in the days of prohibition. Before then, craft distilleries were unheard of in BC until Okanagan Spirits paved the way.
CEO, Tyler Dyck, and his family have been in the Okanagan for four generations and produce a uniquely local product. “We live in an area where we can grow almost anything,” says Dyck. “We decided to take advantage of it. There are unique flavours of the Okanagan, and we wanted to bottle that.”
Their first distillations were made from unutilized fruits. “It cost farmers a lot of money to get their damaged or excess fruit off the trees. We offered to pay the pickers and in turn, we would keep the fruit. We created something beautiful out of things that would probably be wasted.”
One of the keys to Okanagan Spirits’ success is that they are unapologetically authentic.
Dyck explains. “Every year, every batch we make tastes just a little different from the previous year. All the products we use are grown locally, even the grains. Different temperatures, locations, rainfall, etc., play a huge role in creating distinct terroir for our beverages. Even the distilling process can be slightly different from year to year. Vintages may be similar, but they will never taste exactly the same.”
This family-run business is also highly aware of how its business affects the Okanagan. “We are stewards of the land,” Dyck says. “All our ingredients are grown without sprays and once we are finished with it, the spent grains and fruits go back to feed goats and cattle. We also redistill our by-products and make fuel for our vehicles.”
It’s About the Experience
Okanagan Spirits tasting bars are open daily in both Vernon and Kelowna. The owners and staff make sure that everyone who walks through their doors has a great experience.
“When people come to Okanagan Spirits, they don’t just come to buy our products, they come for the tasting experience. They learn about where the ingredients come from, how to properly taste and enjoy them, how to mix them in cocktails”, explains Dyck. “When you buy directly from us, you get a guided experience. Besides, you can’t find our products at BC Government Liquor Stores.”
Okanagan Spirits create close to 50 products including fruit brandies and liqueurs, absinthe, aquavit, vodka, gin, and whiskies including rye, bourbon, and single malt. They even make their own simple syrups and bottled cocktails.
Dyck summed it up this way. “When people come to Okanagan Spirits, they leave with the stories behind our beverages, with the flavours of the Okanagan and the history that went into making our beverages.”