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The Whisky Lover's Travel Guide to British Columbia

Liberty Distillery in Vancouver makes the triple-distilled Trust whiskey in homage to the Irish style.

The Whisky Lover's Travel Guide to British Columbia

February 11, 2019 –––––– Susannah Skiver Barton, , , ,

To get to British Columbia, Canada, start in Seattle and take the Amtrak Cascades train Vancouver or the Victoria Clipper ferry to Victoria.

Already well known for its wines, Canada's southwestern corner recently has become a hotbed of whisky making, especially for single malts.

Victoria Caledonian Distillery on Vancouver Island has been making single malt since 2016. Until that whisky attains Canada's minimum aging period of 3 years, the distillery is selling sourced blended malt scotch. Victoria Caledonian also operates a brewery, making Twa Dogs beer. Visit for a tour (twice daily), a whisky and chocolate pairing, or a master class where you can pull your own barrel sample, then grab a drink in the lounge.

Further north on Vancouver Island, Shelter Point Distillery farms two-row barley and distills it into single malt, aging the whisky by the Salish Sea. Visitors can enjoy the nearby Bear Creek Nature Park—whose land was donated by Shelter Point's owners—before stepping into the distillery for a tour (Wednesdays through Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.) and tasting of single malt, which at 5 years old is among the longest aged of Canada's new-wave whiskies.

Within Vancouver, The Liberty Distillery (two tours a day on weekends) makes a variety of spirits, including Trust Whiskey (spelled with an “e” in tribute to its Irish style). The whiskey is triple-distilled from unmalted barley and ages for 3 years in bourbon barrels; Madeira and Burgundy single cask versions are also available. Liberty's full-service lounge, serving its spirits, cocktails, and snacks, offers happy hour Monday through Thursday and “brunch hour” Friday through Sunday. Just across the Fraser River, Central City Brewery & Distillery (three tours a day on weekends and holidays) makes the Lohin McKinnon line—named for brewmaster Gary Lohin and head distiller Stuart McKinnon—which includes two single malts, as well as a whisky made of malted barley and rye.




Other local distilleries include Yaletown Distilling Co., which has a 3 year old single malt aged in French oak; Roots and Wings Distillery, currently selling the corn-based Rebel spirit; and Odd Society Spirits, which is offering 30-liter casks of aging single malt or rye for $1,600, plus bottling costs. (Fun fact: Odd Society's co-founder, Joshua Beach, now works in Ontario as master distiller at Gretzky Estates Distillery south of Toronto.)

Vancouver is also home to a number of world-class whisky bars, including Fets Whisky Kitchen, boasting over 1,300 bottles; Shebeen Whisk(e)y House, a gastropub-bar combo with hundreds of whiskies; and The Keefer Bar, which concocts inventive drinks made with Canadian whiskies like Forty Creek.

Distilleries and Breweries


Central City Brewery & Distillery 11411 Bridgeview Dr., Surrey
The Liberty Distillery 494 Old Bridge St., Units 1-2, Granville Island
Odd Society Spirits 1725 Powell St., Vancouver
Roots and Wings Distillery 7897 240th St., Langley
Shelter Point Distillery 4650 Regent Rd., Campbell River
Victoria Caledonian Distillery 761 Enterprise Crescent, Victoria
Yaletown Distilling Co. 1132 Hamilton St., Vancouver

Restaurants and Bars


Fets Whisky Kitchen 1230 Commercial Dr., Vancouver
Shebeen Whisk(e)y House 212 Carrall St., Vancouver
The Keefer Bar 135 Keefer St., Vancouver

Transportation


Amtrak Cascades 303 S. Jackson St., Seattle
Victoria Clipper Ferry 2701 Alaskan Way, Pier 69, Seattle