Legend Distilling: A Virtual Tour
A distilling revolution is underway as small craft distilleries are beginning to make an impact on the landscape of Canadian spirits. About a month ago I profiled the Big Rig Craft Distillery, in Nisku, Alberta, and today I am hopping (in a virtual way) across the Rocky Mountains to Naramata, British Columbia to profile one of the Pacific Province’s newest Craft Distilleries, Legend Distilling.
Legend Distilling is a small craft distillery in the heart of B.C. Okanagan Wine Country. Owner’s Dawn and Doug Lennie moved to Naramata 11 years ago and witnessed the progression of the wine business happening all around them. They were already running their own businesses, but had a dream of working together to build a new company they could share. Whiskey was always been a passion of Doug’s and he had also been watching what was going on with craft distilling in the US. Both Dawn and he decided that spirits would be a great business to bring to the community as a compliment to all the great wines available around them. For Dawn and Doug, offering something new in the area was key. This included their unique location along the Naramata Bench, as other distilleries were being located in more industrial areas.
According to Dawn:
“We are thrilled with our location…we have access to a bounty of beautiful raw ingredients to create our products from and fabulous scenery and ambiance for our tasting room and lounge. We want to give customers the opportunity to learn the whole story of our products from ‘farm to glass’ when they visit the distillery.”
Although the distillery has only been open for 14 short months, they have been very busy producing a Vodka, two Gins, a specialty Coffee Liqueur, and an Orange Liqueur (with a twist). A special effort is made to use as many locally produced ingredients as possible, and in conjunction with the Vancouver-based branding company, Also Known As Design Studio, Dawn and Doug have creating unique branded spirits with stunning bottle designs which feature direct links to the local economy and to the local legends that surround the distillery.
The Distillery’s flagship Vodka Shadow In the Lake Vodka which pays homage to the legendary beast Ogopogo. The spirit is produced from 100 % wheat grain grown in the South Peace area of British Columbia which is ground on site at the distillery. It is produces one batch at a time using the distillery’s 3000 litre mash tun and 600 litre hybrid pot still which has one 4 plate column and one 16 plate column attached.
“Our beer is distilled into a low wine and collected, then re-distilled again through both 4 and 16 tray columns. Our cuts are made on the 2nd distillation using a combination of time, flavour, ABV, corrections to atmospheric pressure and temperature.”
Currently Shadow in the lake Vodka is available in the Distillery’s tasting room/lounge in Naramata, on their website (here) and in select private stores in BC … unfortunately it is not available in Alberta yet.
Legend Distilling’s, Doctor’s Orders Gin is named for the former Doctor’s office which became the home of the distillery. (An old style apothecary bottle which houses the spirit, and the name of the gin itself (Doctor’s Orders) plays coy with the locally told story that during prohibition in British Columbia physicians would actually prescribe cocktails as medicinal relief for their patients.)
The gin is produced from the same distillate which would become Shadow in the Lake Vodka; however to produce the gin they distill once more using a vapour method to infuse their botanicals through a gin basket. As many botanicals as possible are sourced locally from Naramata including dried apple, lavender and elderberry. (See my published review here)
The Distillery also produces a unique smokey rosemary flavoured Gin called Defender Island which is made with local wild sage and fire roasted rosemary, and Blasted Brew, a spiked coffee liqueur which is cold brewed with locally roasted beans from Summerland, British Columbia, as well as an Orange & Sumac Liqueur called Manitou. (The Sumac berries are locally foraged wild berries which gives the liqueur a lovely tart finish.)
Of course Legend Distilling has other plans as well. They have begun to distill and barrel their own whiskey. It takes three years before the spirit in the barrel can be legally sold as Canadian Whiskey; but if you are interested in staying up to date on their whiskey program they can sign up for updates on their website (under the ‘become a legend’ tab at the bottom of each website page). As well Legend Distilling has incorporated a Tasting Room/Lounge within the Distillery. If you happen to be going on an Okanagan Vacation this summer, I suggest that you check it out, and maybe sample a few of the spirits for yourself. I suspect the visit will be well worth your time.