Spirits of the Cowichan Valley

Spirits of the Cowichan Valley

Spirits of the Cowichan Valley

Haunted by a desire for more than a glass of wine or the local pub’s brew? Explore the spirits of the Cowichan Valley. The distilleries nestled amid the Valley’s stunning landscapes and lush vineyards, are manifestations of its burgeoning artisanal culture. While often celebrated for its wineries, the Cowichan Valley has also emerged as a hotspot for craft distilleries, offering a diverse range of premium spirits created with passion and precision.

In this exploration, we delve into the rich tapestry of distilleries that grace the valley, uncovering their stories, techniques, and the unique flavours they bring to the world of spirits.

The Rise of Craft Distilleries and Spirits

In recent years, the craft spirits movement has gained significant momentum, with discerning consumers seeking authentic, locally-produced libations with character and depth. The Cowichan Valley’s temperate climate, fertile soil, and proximity to pristine water sources provide an ideal environment for cultivating premium ingredients essential for crafting exquisite spirits.

Home to a community of passionate artisans, the Valley has become a hub for this movement, with several distilleries leading the charge.

Exploring Distilleries in the Cowichan Valley


Merridale Cidery & Distillery:

  • Founded in 2000, Merridale Cidery & Distillery has garnered acclaim for its handcrafted ciders and spirits with an unconventional twist.
  • Following traditional techniques, including locally-sourced ingredients, they produce a range of spirits, including aromatic brandies, gins, rhumbs (rum), vodka, and fortifieds, each imbued with the essence of Vancouver Island’s terroir.
  • The distillery’s commitment to innovation is evident in their diverse product lineup. Their spirits collection showcases the artistry of their master distiller, who employs cider apples and honey to create Merridale’s unique selection of spirits.

Stillhead Distillery:

  • Situated on the outskirts of Duncan, Stillhead Distillery is a family-owned operation dedicated to producing small-batch, artisanal spirits of unparalleled quality.
  • Using distinctive local ingredients such as wild picked berries and locally farmed rhubarb, Stillhead puts the essence of the Island into every bottle.
  • With a dedication to traditional techniques and a passion for innovation, their portfolio includes a diverse array of spirits, from award-winning gin to barrel-aged whiskey, all crafted with precision and care.
  • Visitors are welcome to experience the artistry firsthand, immersing themselves in the distillation process and savouring the distinctive flavours that define Stillhead’s signature offerings.

Ampersand Distilling Company:

  • Founded by a dynamic duo with a shared passion for distillation, Ampersand Distilling Company is celebrated for its innovative approach to crafting premium spirits.
  • Standing as a beacon of creativity and craftsmanship in the world of spirits, their flagship gin is infused with locally foraged botanicals. Their award winning Vodka and experimental liqueurs are a testament to their commitment to quality and ingenuity.
  • Embracing traditional methods alongside modern techniques, Ampersand Distilling Company invites visitors to embark on a sensory journey, discovering the unique flavours and stories behind each meticulously crafted libation.

The Art of Distillation:

Crafting exceptional spirits is a delicate alchemy that requires a harmonious blend of science, artistry, and intuition. Distillers in the Cowichan Valley draw upon centuries-old traditions while embracing modern techniques to create spirits of unparalleled quality and complexity.

Just as winemakers celebrate the unique terroir of their vineyards, distillers in the Valley pay homage to the region’s distinctive landscape and microclimates. By sourcing locally-grown grains, fruits, and botanicals, they capture the essence of the land, infusing their spirits with a sense of place.

One of the hallmarks of the Cowichan Valley’s distilling scene is its spirit of collaboration and camaraderie. Distillers often come together to share knowledge, resources, and a passion for their craft, fostering a vibrant community dedicated to pushing the boundaries of artisanal spirits production.

In the Cowichan Valley, the art of distillation is more than just a craft; it’s a reflection of a community’s spirit, ingenuity, and connection to the land. As the valley continues to evolve and flourish, its distilleries stand as proud ambassadors of quality, creativity, and authenticity, inviting enthusiasts to savour the fruits of their labour and embark on a journey of discovery through the world of premium spirits (all without a single séance!).