Provincewide, the pioneer of the pack is Frank Deiter of Okanagan Spirits in Vernon.
produces a wide range of the fresh fruit brandy known as eau de vie, as well as an aged apple brandy he
calls "Canados" (Calvados being a proprietary name in Normandy) and Taboo, the only authentic absinthe in Canada.
Only a few months after he
distillery licence in October 2004, he
won the "Best Newcomer" title at the World Spirits Awards in Austria.
This year, he was awarded Master Class status, the top prize at the event, and took home six gold and three silver medals as well.
"To be recognized in the same bracket with some of the best distillers in Europe is just fantastic for Okanagan Spirits
, fantastic for the Okanagan
region and fantastic for the province," Deiter
"I'm just happy that I love what I'm doing," he
will tell you, though, that the process was anything but easy.
While Phillips made his from his own design, Deiter
, Pipes and Winchester imported handcrafted, wood-fired copper stills from Germany at a cost of about $70,000 each.
It's especially frustrating, Deiter
says, because fruit spirits are so much more expensive to produce than either wine or grain spirits.
"Your yield is less, your cost is higher, and now the provincial government comes and adds a percentage gain on top of that," he
"We could do a whole lot more if we had a similar deal to the wineries.
"The wine industry did have the same challenge.
Political changes were needed to make it an industry.
And you only have to look around to see what it has become."
British Columbia's artisanal distillers can't compete with the big multi-nationals in terms of price, production or marketing, but Deiter
insists, "Quality is where we can stand out.