The tone is immediately set as you climb out of your car and cast eyes on Okanagan Spirit Craft Distillery’s expansive new location.
The 16,000-square-foot, 24th Street facility was largely rebuilt from the ground up. However, a brick facade provides a sense of establishment.
“We’re proud to show it off,” said Rodney Goodchild, director of marketing and operations, of the building.
“It was a year in the planning and the application.”
Crossing the threshold, you are immediately captivated by a series of towers and copper-pot stills required for rye whisky, single malt, fruit brandies, liqueurs, grappa, aquavit, gin, vodka and absinthe.
“We’re encouraging people to come and visit and see how we produce the product,” said Goodchild.
“With the still running, we can capture people’s imagination.”
With a $3 million budget, the new facility is four times larger than a smaller, but intimate, complex in the downtown core.
“We outgrew that space four or five years ago. It had become cumbersome and inefficient,” said Goodchild, adding that the new location means growing consumer demand can be met.
“We will have the capability to do a barrel a day. That’s a lot in resources and processing and a lot in storage, but with whisky, the more you can produce, the better.”
Beyond the modern and shiny components of production, the new distillery pays homage to a tradition that is centuries old.
Wooden casks line the tasting room and lounge, while a 1932 car, surrounded by jugs, crates and mashing tubs, dominates a corner.
“It captures the prohibition era. There’s the moonshiner shack look,” said Goodchild of the motif.
Considerable attention is also given to the rich history of the Okanagan, and particularly the tree fruit sector, which bolsters the flavour of liqueurs and brandies.
Beams and posts originally supported the long demolished Fruit Union packinghouse, while a wall-size photograph features a crew picking apples at Coldstream Ranch in 1918.
One also can’t ignore the special tribute to J.C. Dun-Waters, who settled on the Fintry delta and commissioned his own single malt whisky. It’s his legacy that is captured in Okanagan Spirit’s Laird of Fintry single malt.
Another aspect of local history is captured as a long section of counter comprises the gymnasium floor from the old M.V. Beattie Elementary in Enderby.
Every last detail was carefully designed under the watchful eye of the Dyck family, the driving force behind the business.
It’s anticipated the new facility will prove popular with locals and tourists who are looking for something distinct from wineries that dominate other Okanagan communities.
“People are proud of this and how it sets us apart as a community,” said Goodchild.
“People share in our success.”
And there is plenty to be proud of.
With senior distiller Peter von Hahn present, Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery won distillery of the year and spirit of the year, while retaining its world class distillery designation, at the 2015 World Spirits Awards in Denmark.
“We know we have quality,” said Goodchild, who believes a large part of the company’s success is tied directly to a growing consumer interest in locally produced goods.
“People are more aware of where their food comes from and they see value in quality. They see value in the local economy.”