Now drink this: 15 best spirits from BC Distilled 2019

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They came, they sipped, they chose their favourites, ranging from a delicately herbal absinthe to a boldly spiced rye whisky.

Some 600 people descended on the Croatian Cultural Centre on April 6 for the sixth annual BC Distilled festival, highlighting the best of the province’s artisan spirits. Some 180 spirits from 39 distilleries were poured over two tastings, and at the end of it all, the audience voted for their favourites in 13 categories.

Odd Society’s Prospector Rye Whisky was voted the audience-favourite whisky at BC Distilled. Photo by Gail Nugent

“Spirit fans in B.C. have some favourites, which they are committed to year after year, but they also found some exciting new spirits from our newcomers,” said BC Distilled founder Alex Hamer, “It’s great to see perennial favourites like Sheringham Distillery’s Akvavit win its category again, but I’m also excited to see new producers like Summerland’s Alchemist Distiller establish themselves with their Green Frog Absynthe.”

Here are the winners of the BC Distilled 2019 Audience Favourites Awards.

Absinthe: Alchemist Distiller, Summerland, Green Frog Absynthe

Akvavit: Sheringham Distillery, Sooke, Akvavit (winner 2017/18)

Amaro or Vermouth (Italian-style bitter liqueurs): The Woods Spirit Co, North Vancouver, Barrel Aged Pacific Northwest Amaro

Brandy or eau de vie: Merridale Cidery & Distillery, Cobble Hill, Cowichan Pear

Barrel-aged gin: The Dubh Glas Distillery, Oliver, Noteworthy Gin | Barrel Rested (winner 2018)

Flavoured or infused vodka: Taynton Bay Spirits, Invermere, Ginger Matcha

Liqueur (TIE): Bruinwood Estate Distillery, Roberts Creek, Advocaat; Sons of Vancouver, North Vancouver, No. 82 Amaretto (winner 2015/16/17)

Gin: Sheringham Distillery, Sooke, Kazuki Gin

Other aged or white spirit: Resurrection Spirits, Vancouver, Resurrection White Rye

Rum: Sons of Vancouver, North Vancouver, Craft Coconut Rum

Vodka (TIE): Ampersand Distilling Company, Duncan, Per Se Vodka (winner 2016/17/18); Wayward Distillation House, Courtenay, Unruly Vodka (winner 2015)

Whisky: Odd Society Spirits, Vancouver, Prospector Rye Whisky

Young whisky (aged less than three years): de Vine Spirits, Ancient Grains (winner 2018)

In addition, the festival raised $8,041 for the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) through a silent auction, 50/50 draw and a portion of ticket sales. BC Distilled has raised more than $20,000 for PADS over the past four years.