If Rita and Charles Tremewen seem a tad excited, you can’t blame them. The couple have just pulled the wraps off Vancouver’s Long Table Distillery — the city’s first distillery to open in decades.
When I walked into Long Table’s smart tasting room on Hornby Street, with its gleaming, handmade Christian Carl copper still clearly visible, I couldn’t help but think how normal it all felt — even civilized. Even more so when Charles asked me, “Care for a gin and tonic?”
Long Table Distillery is the end result of three nail-biting years of studying and planning since the pair were wandering Portland’s “Distillery Row” — a industrial neighbourhood that’s home to six craft distillers — and thought, “Why not in Vancouver?”
Why not, indeed? Coincidentally, it was just last month that B.C. liquor laws changed, granting more flexibility to craft distillers and the sale of their products. All of which has given Long Table’s proprietors considerable peace of mind.
Currently there are two products on offer at Long Table Distillery — gin and vodka. And we were impressed with both, particularly the gin. It’s extremely pure and clean tasting with a definite up front juniper personality and a gentle citrus undertone, super smooth. And even though I was quite happy with my G&T, it would definitely shine in a dry martini.
“Stoned Texada” Vodka is so named because it’s filtered through Texada Island limestone.
“We wanted to is create something a little different… so we ran it through the limestone to polish and mineralize it,” Charles says. The result is more mouthfeel and mineral character, as well as a hint of lemongrass, through which it’s also filtered. Charles says he already has no shortage of converts. The name is also a nod to Texada Island’s Pocahontas Bay, once the site of the biggest Prohibition-era whisky still north of Vancouver.
Come spring, the First Nations foragers with whom the couple work will be back in the hills looking for juniper berries, wild ginger and mountain ash to include in new recipes being developed.
“We’re all about working with local people,” says Charles who, under the new legislation, is already supplying restaurants Forage and Edible Vancouver.
You can buy Long Table gin ($50) and vodka ($45) from the tasting room, at 1451 Hornby St., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Distillery tours are offered at 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Long Table gin and vodka should be available at BCLS this spring. More info at longtabledistillery.com.
Not too many Japanese restaurants are wine savvy. Even fewer can boast a sommelier on staff. But that’s not the case at Zest (MacDonald at 16th Ave., ph. 604-731-9378, zestjapanese.com), where sommelier/chef Tatsuya Katagiri pairs prawn tempura and smoked salmon with Haywire’s The Bub, or seared Hokkaido scallop Nigiri with Haywire Canyonview Chard. Downtown’s less formal ShuRaku (ph. 604-687-6222, shuraku.net) is equally tempting. Both serve some of the best conceived (and smartly matched) plates around.
Belly’s Budget Best: Que Guapo 2011
This is an affordable Malbec and Bonarda blend. The Bonarda gives it some heft and contributes to the cherry taste while the Syrah brings a bit of edge that Malbec on its own can sometimes miss. The big fruit on the palate gets balanced with some nice peppery points before a solid finish. Not fancy but pretty decent value at this price.
$14.99 at B.C. Liquor Stores, 88 pts.