The historic Bengal Lounge of The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia was the setting for the release of Victoria Gin on May 13. Winchester Cellars created B.C.’s first handcrafted gin, and they are also Vancouver Island’s first licensed distillery. The unique recipe for Victoria Gin blends ten organic and wild botanicals, from juniper berries to rose petals. The 11th ingredient is known only to the distiller.
The gin is distilled in small batches in a handmade wood-fired copper pot-still. Since only the middle part or “hearts” of each run is saved for bottling, the result is an intensely flavored spirit that is as full-bodied and complex as a fine single-malt whiskey. And forget James Bond. Shaken or stirred, it makes a perfect martini. Or add ice and a splash of tonic for a cool G&T. The gin comes in heavy French flint bottles, with a label featuring a portrait of a youthful Queen Victoria.
Winchester Cellars is located at Barking Dog Vineyard, the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island. Victoria Gin will be available exclusively through the Fairmont Empress Hotel, The Strath Spirit Merchants and from the Tasting Room at Winchester Cellars through June 1, 2008. It retails for $49 CAD.
Fairmont Empress Hotel
Photo by Sue Frause