The production of craft beverage has skyrocketed in popularity as of late. Especially in the Northwest, where it is hard to walk 10 feet without seeing a new craft brewery or an original craft distiller pop up out of nowhere. This is not a bad thing by any means. It provides diversity in an otherwise dull and repetitive industry. And while this has been all the rage throughout the United States, Canada’s progression into craft took a bit longer to smooth out the kinks.
Long Table Distillery was the first micro-distillery to open its doors in the populous city of Vancouver, BC. So that must have happened, what, at least a decade ago? Think again—this was only two-and-a-half years ago, and the distillery has already inspired a multitude of similar craft and micro-distillers to follow suit.
Founder and distiller Charles Tremewen says that he is excited to see the Vancouver community of craft producers expand and progress in the way that it has. “We look at similar industries in both Oregon and Washington State as an example of what Vancouver can become if more producers continue making great products,” Tremewen says. “Some of our friends [in the states] were doing the whole distilling thing and when we saw that, it was no longer one of those impossible dreams that could never happen—it was achievable.”
Not more than two years down the road, Long Table is blossoming and leading the way in Vancouver’s craft distilling scene. Within six months of their opening, another three distilleries popped up. More and more opened every year, with more than 30 operating in British Columbia alone today. “With any budding industry there is going to be competition,” Tremewen says. “It is healthy and encouraging, but I look forward to reaching a point where we can begin collaborating with each other.”
And Long Table is leading the way in collaboration as well. Tremewen was recently elected as the president of the BC Craft Distilling Association, which is a conglomerate of local craft distillers united in progressing their industry. One of its missions is to work with the Canadian government to make craft distilling an easier and more producer friendly industry to be involved with.
Along with government collaboration, Tremewen again looks at the states to the south as examples of how important these unions can be. “It seems the industry down there has settled a bit and they are now working together to create some really amazing things,” Tremewen says. “I can’t wait for that to be the case up here, as it has already started a bit.”
The distillery has already partnered with a number of local businesses in a variety of ways. Honey used in a limoncello is sourced from a community project beehive, the crates used to package his spirits are made by a local woodworker and the barrels used for aging come from the Woodinville Whiskey Company in Washington. “We want to collaborate all the way down the chain, because collaboration is where our industry needs to be.”
As for the alcohol itself, it can stand on its own two feet without the whole history of the distillery that produces it. With acclaim from many of the bartenders in the Vancouver area, accolades that Tremewen calls “the most important praise of all,” they are continually perfecting and experimenting with the spirits they produce. They also received four awards at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition, including a gold medal for their Cucumber gin and three silver medals for their London Dry gin, Texada vodka and Långbord akvavit. They are currently working on an amaro and rum, with distant plans for a whiskey down the road.
As more distillers continue to pop up in the province, Long Table continues to innovate and impress. As the industry grows, so too does Vancouver’s first micro-distillery. Moving forward, Tremewen looks to those that are following in his footsteps, as well as those that he respects.
“I am excited about joining the very best of Pacific Northwest spirits, and I am excited for the collaboration to come as our industry matures to its fullest potential.”