If a visit to some Distilleries is your pleasure, Victoria and the surrounding area can provide you with some new flavours to try. Victoria Distillery, located in Sidney by the Sea, offers tours of the entire distilling process, including everything from selecting the botanicals to blending and bottling. After a tour, sample the products, including the award-winning Victoria Gin. Sherringham Distillery in Sooke offers Seaside Gin, Akavit, vodka, and whiskey. They utilize unique flavours to make Loganberry Vodka and Dark Chocolate Vodka, or the Asian inspired Kazuki Gin, flavoured with cherry blossom petals, Yuzu from Japan, green tea leaves and flowers from Westholme Tea Farm. Merridale Cidery and Distillery, located in the Cowichan Valley, boasts an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distiller, gastropub, and shop. De Vine Wines and Spirits uses locally sourced ingredients to make craft whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, vermouth, and wines using traditional small-batch methods. Victoria Caledonian Distillery offers guided tours of operational brewing and distilling, and features scotch-style single malt whiskey and superb craft beer.
Craft breweries abound in Victoria and on the Island, located as breweries alone, or as gastropubs. Home to the first and oldest craft beer pub on the island, Victoria is known as the Craft Beer Capital! Passionate brewers create beers that stand alone or pair well with local cuisine, incorporating local ingredients that tie in with the local palate.
For the wine connoisseur, Vancouver Island offers some of the most unique wines in the world. While new to the wine world, wineries on Vancouver Island have already won prestigious awards for their flavours. Interestingly, wine making on Vancouver Island began as a government funded trial called “the Duncan Project.” Grape varieties chosen for this seaside environment were Pinot Gris, Auzerrois, and Ortega. These would later include Maréchal Foch and Pinot Noir.
The Cowichan Valley is a prime grape-growing area, sheltered from the Pacific storms, and enjoying a mild climate year-round. The word “cowichan,” comes from the Salish word “khowutzun,” which means “warm land,” an accurate description for this plush landscape with dramatic ocean views. Many of these Cowichan Valley wineries are a labour of love and determination as wine makers battle a short growing season to produce truly local wines. Many of the wineries also boast artisanal cheeses, homemade ciders and fresh breads, along with many other delicacies to suit the discerning palate.
Tours of wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries can be one day excursions, or can take several days, depending on your taste and time!