Raise your spirits (and a glass) at these Kootenay distilleries

Hand-crafted with local grains, fruit and berries, Kootenay distilleries are making their mark in the world of fine spirits

by Julie Matchett
Whiskey-keg and bottle of Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery product.

Spirit abounds at Kootenay area craft distilleries! Find fine whiskey, premium vodkas and gins, delicately flavoured cordials and liqueurs crafted with local fruit infusions and more. — Photo courtesy Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery Facebook page

As diverse as the Kootenay landscape is, so are the area distilleries that dot the region. From premium vodka and gin made from locally foraged botanicals to delicately flavoured cordials, schnapps and liqueurs infused and hand-crafted from the freshest available fruit, there’s a spirit available for every taste.

Explore this list of award-winning Kootenay-area distilleries that strive to create original, unique flavours that both pay homage to their regional roots and satisfy the most discerning cocktail connoisseur.

Speaking of spirits, it’s clear that our local distilleries have a strong sense of community spirit in times of crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a very hard-to-find commodity—hand sanitizer—is being produced by local distilleries from their byproducts. A big high-five to our Kootenay craft distilleries!

Cranbrook

Elderberry Bros. Farms Distillery

A love of his grandmother’s elderberry syrup as a child led Attila Lepsis and his wife, owners of Elderberry Bros. Farms & Distillery, to found their Wycliffe area farm. With over 5,000 elderberry plants now established on the farm, the company plans to expand their future product range. They currently have five delicious varieties of schnapps available for purchase.

Products:

  • Elderflower & Cherry Schnapps
  • Elderberry Schnapps
  • Elderflower & Honey Schnapps
  • Apple Strudel Schnapps
  • Cherry & Honey Schnapps

Where to find: Available for purchase online, in-store across B.C. and at local farmers markets.

Creston

Wynndel Craft Distilleries

Wynndel Craft Distilleries is an award-winning distillery situated in the fertile and beautiful Creston Valley. Owned by Pat and Jeanette Meerholz, the distillery creates handcrafted products, all made with a fruit base that contains no grains.

Products:

  • Fruit brandy: various fruit infusions
  • Gin: apple, floral and wildflower honey
  • Fruit liqueurs
  • Schnapps
  • Vodka: chili cherry and spicy peach

Where to find: The Wynndel Craft Distillery is open from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Address: 1331 Channel Road, Wynndel. Products can also be purchased online and shipped within B.C. only, delivered locally or picked up.

Fernie

Fernie Distillers Inc.

A small-batch distillery owned by husband-and-wife team Andrew Hayden and Jillian Rutherford, Fernie Distillers Inc. is a very successful local business. Winners of the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Fernie Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Business Awards Gala, the company produces handcrafted products that represent the legendary spirit of Fernie’s mountain-town lifestyle.

Products:

  • No. 9 Mine Vodka: a wheat-based vodka, rich in flavour and distinctly smooth
  • Fernie Fog Liqueur: an Earl Grey tea–infused liqueur with vanilla and demerara sugar
  • Prospector Gin: a well-balanced classic gin, infused with juniper, citrus fruit and botanicals
  • Limited edition Seasonal Spirits when available

Where to find: Fernie Distillers Inc. is located at 531 1st Avenue in Fernie—hours are Wednesday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Products and spirits can also be purchased online.

Grand Forks

True North Distilleries

Known as British Columbia’s first and only (so far ...) female-owned and -operated distillery, True North Distilleries is dedicated to the craft distillation of spirits, using traditional techniques and development.

Products:

  • Whiskey, Rye
  • Rum
  • Gin
  • Brandy
  • Absinthe
  • Liqueurs

Where to find: Tasting hours are Monday through Wednesday by appointment only, Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sunday. Address: 1460 Central Ave, Grand Forks. Products can also be purchased online.

Invermere

Taynton Bay Distillers

Specializing in premium spirits made with no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners, Taynton Bay products are distilled from locally grown wheat. As a company that strives for world domination, a successful financial deal with the Dragons’ Den in 2019 helped to move their aspirations one step closer to reality.

Products:

  • Vodka/vodka infusions
  • Gin
  • Bitters

Where to find: Taynton Bay Spirits is located at 1701B 6th Avenue in Invermere. Available for purchase online and at stores across B.C. and Alberta.

Kimberley

Bohemian Spirits

“Hand-crafted, hand-corked, and hands-down the happiest bits from around the Rocky Mountains in a bottle” is the description Bohemian Spirits gives themselves and their products. In operation since 2014, this small-town company prides itself on quality products made from locally foraged botanicals.

Products:

  • Vagabond Vodka
  • Gin
  • Liqueurs
  • Whiskey

Where to find: Available for purchase online.

Revelstoke

Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery

One of the few certified organic distilleries in Canada, Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery strives to capture the essence of Revelstoke using local juniper, huckleberries, spruce tips and wildflowers.

Products:

  • Vodka
  • Vulcan’s Fire: cinnamon-whiskey liqueur
  • Ethos Gin
  • Big Mountain Creamer: espresso-flavoured liqueur
  • Cocktail Bitters

Where to buy: The Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery is open Wednesday through Sunday, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m at 307 Mackenzie Avenue in Revelstoke. Products are also available for purchase online and at liquor stores across B.C.

Jones Distilling

Housed in a revitalized heritage schoolhouse, award-winning Jones Distilling produces premium hand-crafted spirits.  Owner Jonah Jones started the distillery as a tribute to his “bit of a rogue” father—read on to learn about how the Jones legacy began with the procurement of an illegal still.

Products:

  • Mr. Jones Vodka
  • Premium Revelstoke Gin
  • Bathtub Gin
  • Cordials

Where to find: The tasting room is temporarily closed. Open for direct sales only from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 616 Third Street West, Revelstoke. Products can also be purchased online and at select liquor stores across B.C.

Winlaw

Kootenay Country Craft Distillery

This award-winning craft distillery is dedicated to the 100-Mile Diet rule, making sure to use only locally sourced organic ingredients for their distilled spirits, resulting in an ultra-premium product.

Products:

  • Valhalla Vodka
  • Honey Vodka
  • Seasonal vodka infusions
  • Gin

Where to find: Tasting room is currently closed due to COVID-19 precautions. Products can be purchased online and at stores across the Kootenay area. 

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