Dec 17, 2020
by Marianne Scott
Sidney is a great destination for boaters. Two marinas provide access to provisions and many restaurants and shops. Another attraction, Victoria Distillers, is located next to Port Sidney Marina and offers informative tasting tours.
Port Sidney Marina
Victoria Distillers introduced its first main product, Victoria Gin, 14 years ago. Now they’ve introduced Empress 1908, a special gin. The distillery infuses the gin with the Empress’ signature tea blend, and other botanicals including the “butterfly pea blossom,” an herbal tea grown in southeast Asia. It’s that blossom that gives Empress 1908 its unique indigo colour.
Victoria Distillers offers tours (check the website for Covid hours). I took the tour with others and by one of the stills, we had a chance to sniff the clear liquid. “It’s the last bit of gin we’ve just distilled,” our guide said. “It’s made-up of heads, hearts and tails. Only the heart, the middle of the distilled liquid, is drinkable.” He also showed us dishes of juniper berries and other botanicals added during the distilling process: lemon peel, coriander, angelica, orris root, rose petals, orange peel, star anise, cinnamon and sarsaparilla.
Afterwards, we congregated at the tasting table, where we quaffed samples. Each had a distinct flavor. I highly recommend you make a stop at Victoria Distillers and learn about distilling and its distinct products.
You can read more about this and 20 other distilleries in Marianne Scott’s The Distilleries of Vancouver Island—a Guided Tour of West Coast Craft and Artisan Spirits to be launched in Spring, 2021 by TouchWood Editions.