WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
Our family (The Dyck Family) has a long heritage in the Okanagan Valley. My great-great Grandfather’s family originally settled in the North Okanagan Valley and our family has lived here ever since. I myself grew up in the Vernon area and now live just a short distance from our second distillery location, located in downtown Kelowna.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN UP OKANAGAN SPIRITS?
Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery was born on the notion of starting Western Canada’s First Craft Distillery using age-old European Distilling techniques to truly capture the flavours of fruits and grains of our local Okanagan valley. At that time, many of the fruits in the valley were unceremoniously being discarded simply because they were either too big or too small or had a skin shadow or blemish that made them unmarketable to the Canadian consumer. This level of waste would never be tolerated in Europe and thus, one might say Okanagan Spirits was born on the idea of recycling and re-harnessing the agricultural gifts of the local terroir. Admittedly, it is also always exciting to be the first out of the gates, and as there were no other Craft Distilleries in Western Canada at that time, we were able to capitalize on placing our stamp of being the pioneers of Craft Distilling in BC.
WHICH CAME FIRST, THE KELOWNA LOCATION, OR THE VERNON LOCATION?
Our first distillery location was in Vernon which dates back to late 2003, early 2004. Due to the wonderful support of our local BC consumers, we were forced to expand in late 2010 to open up our second distillery location right downtown in Kelowna, just to keep up with production. The massive increase in support and sales, precipitated by being named Distillery of the Year at the prestigious World Spirits Awards in Klagenfurt Austria in 2013, has yet again forced our hand to expand, and thus we have just completed a relocation and massive rebuild of our flagship Vernon Distillery to make it Western Canada’s largest Craft Distillery. With 17,00sq/ft of production and tasting bar/retail/tour space all done up in 1930’s prohibition era motif, and Western Canada’s tallest copper-pot stills. It is really a sight to see.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COCKTAIL AND WHY?
My choice of favourite cocktails vacillates between the Manhatten and the Old Fashioned. One thing I can say for certain though, is that they are always better when made with handcrafted local ingredients, right down to the 100% Craft made Whiskies they are based upon!
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE DISTILLERY AND HOW A TYPICAL DAY LOOKS FOR YOU?
This is a tricky one, as running a family distillery is a mix of balancing the devotion of time to everything from working with our growers and our production crew, to sitting down and planning marketing, PR and market growth strategies. I am extremely fortunate that I have been able to surround myself with an amazing staff of some of the very best in the business; oh, and it definitely doesn’t hurt to have the World Spirits Awards top ranked craft distiller for 2013 and 2015, Peter von Hahn heading up our production crew. Talk about ace up your sleeve!
MOST POPULAR SPIRIT IN YOUR OPINION THUS FAR?
Without a doubt our most popular spirit thus far is our Laird of Fintry Single Malt Whisky. There is such a pent-up demand for our Whisky that we had to release it on a lottery release system, where you have to sign up to our Laird of Fintry lottery to hopefully win a chance to buy a bottle. This has been such a success, that we now have over 5000 people signed up already for next years lottery release in September, and we expect that this number will grow substantially as the 2015 Laird of Fintry Single Malt Whisky was awarded Gold at the prestigious World Spirits Awards in Køge Denmark.
CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT THE OKANAGAN DISTILLERY PRIDES THEMSELVES IN?
Our pride comes from knowing that at the heart of everything we do is our base mantra, Experience the Exceptional. If a spirit doesn’t live up to that expectation then quite simply, we don’t release it.
FAVOURITE TEAM MEMORY?
That would have to be a whole slew of memories created yearly on our annual team fishing trips, where we get to spend quality time enjoying good chats, great drinks and epic fishing adventures with our team.
WHAT ARE THREE BENEFITS THAT YOU’VE ENJOYED WHILE BEING APART OF GETINTHELOOP?
The Three Benefits that we’ve enjoyed would have to be: Brand Awareness, Local Community Outreach and getting our products noticed by people who are interested in them!
LET US IN ON A FUN FACT!
One of the things that we are very proud of is that we are 100% True Craft BC which means that all of our products are made from 100% local BC grains and fruits and that we do everything ourselves onsite, from fruit crush, grain processing and fermentation, thru to distillation and bottling.
Another fun fact is that 2016 is the year of Whisky for Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery. This year we will release Whiskies in all 4 of our existing Whisky lines, Laird of Fintry Single Malt Whisky, BC Rye Whisky, our Final Proof beer inspired Whisky Line (This years release in BC Hopped Whisky), and finally our much anticipated BRBN Corn Whisky (BC Bourbon-Style). Make sure you sign up to our Whisky Mailing list to find out about our upcoming releases before they sell out!