We are proud producers of small-batch craft spirits, fermented and distilled right here at Merridale.
It wasn’t until 2006, after many years of making cider – and a few more years of research – that we decided to expand with a fully-operational distillery at Merridale. It elevated us from mere cidery to one of the first craft distilleries in BC. We were the third actually. In 2013, we became the first Provincially Certified Craft Distillery in BC. Rick’s determination and legal background was instrumental in changing the old prohibition-like liquor laws of the past into the present day legislation that has allowed for the opening of many a craft distillery in BC, more than 30 since 2013. Since then, our line of spirits has gone on to win awards in every competition we’ve entered under the watchful eyes of Laurent Lafuente and Rick Pipes.
At Merridale on the farm, we distill in a 200-litre, hand-hammered copper pot still from Germany which gives us the flexibility to make aromatic brandies, gins and smooth vodka too. All of our spirits are distilled at least twice and then aged for years in oak barrels, stainless steel tanks or glass containers until they reach their peak. Our apple and pear brandies are aged at least six years in French oak barrels while our XXO Brandy is aged for more than a decade. Like our cider, our gin and vodka are also made entirely from BC grown fruits and botanicals.
It’s worth noting that from 2007 to 2013, we did not sell many of our spirits. Why? The taxes were so high that it was impossible to even cover the cost of the production. Confident that legislation would change, we let the spirits age quietly in barrels and stainless steel tanks while we worked on lobbying the Provincial government. The end result for the Cowichan Spirits line? We have some of the oldest craft spirits in BC. To taste some of these small batches, we host mystery spirit nights at the farm from time to time. Click here or subscribe to our newsletter to learn about upcoming events such as these.