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We Stand on Guard for Thee: An Ode to Canadian Booze

Happy Birthday, Canada! 2017 will mark our country’s 150th anniversary, and it’s looking better than ever. We thought we’d get the party started early and gathered some of our favourite homegrown brands that embody the essence of thoughtful design and artistry. From handcrafted spirits, to beautiful home furnishings, to wearable works of art, never have there been so many excuses to celebrate exceptional Canadian talent.

Bittersweet Vermouth by Odd Society

Can you picture a family of spirits that fuse both New World ingenuity and ingredients with Old World distilling traditions? If so, you’ve likely got your finger square on Odd Society, a house of whiskey, vodka and gin that’s committed to experimentation. Accordingly, their recipe for Bittersweet Vermouth was located in an antique notebook the owners recovered. Based on an old Italian sweet vermouth concoction, Odd Society’s reinterpretation blends fine BC wine —which has been fortified with malted barley spirit — alongside 25 botanicals. Offering flavours hailed as equal parts rich and intense, the complex (contradictory, even) result is something which boldly walks the line between the traditional and the uncommon. $28 for $375mL

Bluenose Rum by Ironworks Distillery

Let’s boil Ironworks Distillery down to a few eye-catching numbers, shall we? 30,000. This refers to the litres of tank capacity in their basement. All year long, Ironworks ferments apples, pear and molasses for their rum, brandy and vodka. 200. Ironworks has this many barrels of their distilled product in oak. 150. No fruit travels more than that many kilometres to their Lunenberg, Nova Scotia facility. And 8. The short distance in kilometres that their cranberries traverse from bog to distillery. In other words, Ironworks is committed to creating products from scratch, as well as sourcing all their raw ingredients from home. We recommend their Bluenose blend, a splendidly dark, rich bit of amber rum with a blend of caramel, molasses and just a hint of spice. $35 for 375mL

Three Point Vodka by Eau Claire Distillery

Based in a historic hamlet called Turner Valley — just a half hour southwest of downtown Calgary — Eau Claire Distillery employs a distinct ‘farm to glass’ approach in serving Canada’s premium handcrafted artisanal spirits. It’s all about sourcing the finest Alberta grain here, then grinding and mashing it via a carefully managed process, which varies from recipe to recipe. In fact, each Eau Claire product carries a precise fermentation criteria and yeast utilized for generating desired flavour notes. The brand’s showcase offering, its Three Point Vodka, is a banner example of how they blend ancient techniques with modern creativity. Produced at the edge of the Rockies, the vodka’s been made with pure mountain water naturally fortified with minerals, some of its ingredients even farmed by using a team of horses and 100-year-old plough! $47

Victoria Gin by Victoria Distillers

Operating out of a unique location that houses two copper pot stills on the Seaport Place waterfront of Sidney, BC, Victoria Distillers produces some of Canada’s finest handmade spirits. And over the last decade, their Victoria Gin has developed something of a cult following. Considered an intensely flavoured spirit that’s as full-bodied and complex as a fine single-malt whisky, it recently received a gold medal at the Beverage Tasting Institute’s 2016 Tasting Awards. The nod comes on top of winning the Vancouver International Spirits Competition earlier this same year. It’s all worthy praise for a gin that so effectively balances the characteristic evergreen flavour of juniper with notes of citrus, floral and spice. $57 for 750mL