4.02.2011

TWISTED AND BITTER WITH VICTORIA GIN AND HEMP VODKA


Nothing says slow love like a hand-crafted gift--whether it is a piece of pottery, a length of woven linen, or, to my recent amazement, a bottle of gin. My wonderful host in Victoria, B.C., Valerie Murray, made a quick detour on the way to the airport and whisked me out to the family distillery, Victoria Gin. Their spirits had been featured in cocktails at the previous evening's dinner--and the guests were rapturous.

The gin is blended of ten wild-gathered botanicals and local spring water. Victoria Gin also produces "Left Coast Hemp Vodka", which smells as divine as it tastes; an "Oaken Gin", matured in American oak barrels until it is tawny; and a delicious brew called "Twisted and Bitter" aromatic bitters. I like to use a dash of bitters in soda water, when I'm being a bore and not drinking. The family has just started blending and aging whiskeys. They offer great recipes on their website, for food as well as drink. After this sodden week I'm liking the sound of a hot mug of Alchemist's Brew.


This really is a family affair. Valerie's husband Bryan presides over Victoria Gin, when he isn't too busy practicing medicine--he is a GP.

Her son Peter, who has a degree in molecular biology, is the Master Distiller; he is shown here at the controls. Her daughter Anna, a chef, is the culinary consultant. Valerie shepherded me through the operation, in her role as Events Coordinator, (when she isn't running the volunteer organization at the impressive Butchart gardens--to say nothing of tending her own romantic horticultural spill). The wood-fired still is a thing of beauty; they make their spirits in small batches. Valerie is a design nut; even the bottles looked gorgeous, and the labels were properly idiosyncratic and eye-catching. I was shaken and stirred.

Victoria Gin is an outfit that, as they say, embodies Victoria the Eccentric, not Victoria the Staid. The company produces about 12,000 bottles annually, and distribute all over Canada--lucky if you happen to live there. Time for them to move into the United States. I would imagine that vodka made from hemp would be a huge hit in San Francisco--to say nothing of New York City. Are you listening, Chez Panisse? You there, Per Se? This is my kind of foraging for ingredients....

12 comments:

Karen said...

Now that's just teasing! For a girl who is a bit partial to a Gin Mojito or a Strawberry Gin cocktail how is one to get her hands on a bottle in Australia ? :)

jayneonweedstreet said...

Gin gives me chest pains - do they do a Victoria Vodka ?- now you're talking!

srhughes08 said...

Loved this find! Hand-made with care. The bottles look like the contain some rare brew (and they do) and the distilling apparatus make me think mad scientist ... all the copper, brass, valves, gauges ... fantastic! I'm going to add it to my list for a trip up to Montreal and Quebec City in the fall... Thanks!

Bruce Barone said...

I wonder if friends in Montreal or Toronto would be willing to ship me a bottle!!!

Karena said...

Sounds so intriguing and one would just savor the different ingredients. The labeling is also divine!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Anonymous said...

Here's to the sensible enjoyment of spirit—and the consciousness to know that it is the alchemist herself who is transformed by the process of brewing, and not necessarily drinking. It is hardly a bore who can appreciate the difference between a bitter dash and a sour grape.

Warren said...

Sorry for my gloomy post about all our flowers coming from Amsterdam. Must have been the inch of rain here in Seattle (sigh...)

Now LOCALLY made spirits are another matter. Just the perfect antidote to all this !@#$ rain. You go sample for me.

Anyone wanting to try that Seattle restaurant with me,just email me.

Warren said...

Wecan try the local wineries and distilleries too!

columnist said...

I was only just recently writing about bitters:

http://corcol.blogspot.com/2011/03/bitter-and-twisted.html

so I was interested to read about that produced in BC. It's great with my usual tipple of vodka & soda, so I imagine much the same without the vodka.

Cristina said...

...H e m p vodka?!?
sounds like an explosive concoction!
no wonder the dinner's guests were rapturous ;-)

Dominique said...

and sometimes it takes a bitter twist to sweeten the grape. a toast to alchemy, wherever it resides. d

Kate said...

Gorgeous operation! I see so much of this popping up all around the NW these days!

PS. Her son Peter is pretty gorgeous too! ;)

~Kate