From small mountain towns to the shores of the Island, British Columbia is bursting with passionate artisan distillers and their craft spirits. It's no wonder that BC Distilled, the annual showcase and tasting event, gets bigger in scope each year with a province so prolific.
There are nearly four dozen micro-distilleries taking part in BC Distilled 2018, among those a dozen newcomers. To prime the tastebuds, a week ahead of the April 14 event, several distillers brought their wares to an exciting pairing dinner hosted at Forage. The spirits, and a custom cocktail, were paired with each of six delectable courses.
The evening kicked off with a lively mixer held next door to Forage at sibling restaurant Timber. Here it was all about getting the party started with fun drinks, including kicky bottled Moscow Mules featuring Dickie's Ginger Beer, and the bright blue Corpse Reviver Number Blue, followed by stripy red and blue "Porn Star" shots.
Sufficiently loosened, the sit-down dinner got underway at Forage, featuring a progression of flavours and spirits, starting with a taste of Scandinavia courtesy a Pacific Herring Escabeche and Sheringham's award-winning akavit.
Two gin courses followed, though they deepened in complexity, starting with Ampersand's Gin in a cucumber punctuated cocktail with a sunchoke and nettle pakora. Following Ampersand's botanical-forward gin was the inspired pairing of Vancouver's Odd Society's Oaken Wallflower Gin and one of Chef Chris Whittaker's most beautiful dishes of the night, a striking Coho salmon tartare with sea urchin and glistening, briny roe.
Rounding out the savoury portion of the meal was a coal roasted bison steak and a barley risotto with vegetables. The bison was hit with some flake salt, upping the salinity to balance with the paired cocktail, a riff on a Manhattan made with DeVine Spirits Ancient Grain Whisky--those notes of grain echoed in the barley of the course, too.
To strike a sweet note, Monashee Spirits of Revelstoke brought their Big Mountain Creamer, a take on an Irish Cream that is surprisingly light and gently sweet. Served in a cocktail with caramel and apple notes, the spirit paired nicely with a creamy chocolate pot-du-creme. One last sweet nibble and a digestif rounded out the feast courtesy some housemade fruit jelly candies and the beautiful bitterness of the Amaro from The Woods Spirit Co. in North Vancouver.
As a tantalizing way to preview the pours to come at BC Distilled, the pairing dinner is a great way to get to hear direct from the distillers, try their spirits and see them in action as presented in cocktails and alongside fantastic eats from one of Vancouver's top restaurants. Always a sell-out event each year, the Distillers' Dinner is one to watch for next year (maybe set yourself a calendar reminder for February to secure your tickets), however tickets to the BC Distilled Main Tasting are still available.
Here are a few more photos of the drinks and food from the evening:
BC Distilled’s Main Tasting takes places on Saturday, April 14 from 6 to 9 pm at the Croatian Cultural Centre (3520 Commercial Drive, Vancouver).