The Distilleries of Vancouver Island: A Guided Tour of West Coast Craft and Artisan Spirits by Marianne Scott

Look no further for the ultimate guide to local craft distilleries on Vancouver Island. This book explores more than a location and a brief description of different spirits. You have an opportunity to learn about the friends and families operating a small business, sometimes at a gruelling 7 days per week pace in the popular summer season as well as a nice overview into the distilling process. Industry terms are defined, and you will never forget the meaning of “angel’s share”, “heads, hearts, and tails”, or the difference between a $1200 or $200 oak barrel and why they are both important. The operational considerations and complications with provincial and municipal zoning permits are also explained. Delving into the creative alchemy generously shared by each distillery is its own reward. Most established distilleries also have a handy cocktail recipe section that will inspire you to explore your own mixology talents.

Take your time with each family and friend’s story of how their dreams came to be. They’ve proudly and generously shared images of equipment, products, and themselves. In some cases, we can witness part of their souls infused within each meditative-like process of collecting fruits, botanicals, carefully selected placement of copper and stainless steel stills, and grain pouring into mash tuns.

After visiting several distilleries in Scotland and Ireland, it’s lovely given my proximity by ferry, to have access to many comparable experiences. If you are visiting from afar, you can use this book to help you plan your Vancouver Island exploration. You can plan a travel itinerary around the following for example: Sheringham Distillery of Sooke operated by the MacIsaacs, the Merridale Cidery and Distillery of Cowichan Valley, and Stillhead Distillery of Duncan. Many options based on your personal tastes for vodka, cider, whiskey, brandy, etc., and adventuresome spirit!

As this book has arrived during a major health pandemic, Scott also mentions whether a distillery also manufactured hand sanitizer to help us contain the spread of COVID-19.

While you may want to rush out and explore the distilleries that are local to you after reading this book, please heed Marianne’s sage advice in the introduction: be a responsible tourist by sipping wisely and planning out your visits for enjoyment and safety.

Marianne Scott is a writer, sailor, and spirits enthusiast. She has been a freelance journalist for more than thirty years, is a columnist for Pacific Yachting and the author of Naturally Salty―Coastal Characters of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in Victoria, BC, with her husband, David. Visit her at

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ TouchWood Editions (April 20 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771513322
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771513326

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Mala Rai is a poet, drummer, psychology student, and technical writing hired gun on the West Coast. Her most recent poems have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, High Shelf Press, and Anti-Heroin Chic. You can follow her on Instagram @malaraipoetry