Pemberton Distillery creates Canada's first organic gin

Several new products in the works for 2011

The Pemberton Distillery originally had no plans to add a gin to its line of spirits, but its commitment to using local ingredients has ultimately led the local business to produce Canada's first organic gin.

Master distiller Tyler Schramm said a Pemberton chef brought the local source of juniper berries, the main flavouring ingredient in gins, to his attention and the idea for the new product was born.

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"A lot of people had asked if we were going to do a gin, and for quite a while I said I had no interest," said Schramm. That was until he learned that juniper berries were available in the Pemberton area.

"That got us thinking about using local ingredients to make a gin," said Schramm. "We thought we would do it during the summer time, but then we decided 'Why not start now?' since we knew we could get ahold of organic juniper berries and other ingredients that we needed.

"It's only about two-weeks-old now and it hasn't even hit the bottles yet, so we're pretty excited to get that out."

The gin will only be available for sale at the distillery. Schramm said the process of creating the new product isn't too far off that of their award-winning vodka.

"We're using a similar spirit that we use to make our vodka, but then we stick it back into one of our stills and add herbs and botanicals. It then gets re-distilled," said Schramm. "Each batch that we do is going to produce about 250 bottles. Once we've sold those bottles, we're going to alter the recipe slightly and do another batch so for each batch, it will vary slightly."

The gin isn't the only new spirit that Pemberton Distillery plans to launch this year, as other flavoured liqueurs are also on the to-do list, said Schramm.

"We're also working on a wide variety of liqueurs using local ingredients," he said. "We've got blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and even locally-grown hazelnuts that we're making liqueurs out of. Once blueberries come into season, we're going to do a blueberry vodka as well."

The distillery and North Arm Farm are also teaming up this summer to offer a joint venture for customers featuring a tour and tasting at the distillery and another tour and lunch at the farm.

"We thought it would be a really good experience for people to see the distillery and also see one of the farms in Pemberton where a lot of our ingredients come from," said Schramm. "The North Arm Bistro uses almost exclusively food items grown on the farm. It's another great experience for people to have that cooking done for them and it ties everything - food, farm and distillery - into one tour."

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