Merridale's Craft Distillery
Our spirits include Cowichan Gin, Cowichan Brandy, Stair's Pear Brandy, Apple Oh de Vie, Blackberry Oh de Vie, and Frizz vodka.
Our fortifieds include Winter Apple, Pomme Oh and Mure Oh.
Distillation begins with the fermenting of fruit. For us, that means our cider apples and locally sourced B.C. fruit is perfect for the creation of craft spirits.
Our hand-crafted Mueller still from Germany is made of hand-hammered copper and has been designed to preserve as much of the aroma and flavour of the fruit as possible. The craftsmen at Mueller take months to make each individual still, to ensure that it makes the best quality brandy over a lifetime of use.
The process of distilling releases clear nectar known as ‘Eau de Vie’ or water of life. Our Eau de Vie is ‘Pomme de Vie’ or apple of life. To make brandy or Calvados the master distiller ages the Eau de Vie for years in carefully selected oak barrels. The process of aging in oak enhances many of the characteristics of the brandy and slowly adds a distinct flavour.
We welcome the opportunity to take you on an authentic tour of the ancient French craft of turning apples and local fruit into a deliciously aged aperitif, fortified cider, and fruit based vodka. You may book a tour and tasting in our distillery by contacting us at at 250-743-4293, 1-800-998-9908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How We Began Making Brandy
While touring Normandy and South West England, we sampled some of the world’s finest cider brandies made from unique varieties of cider apples. Many of those varieties can be found in our Cowichan Valley orchard, so we decided during that trip to take on the challenge of making North America’s best Calvados-style brandy. After years of study and research we embarked on our newest passion, distilling. Small batch distillation is still carried out in Europe, but is relatively new in North America. A few years later, Rick and Janet tasted the first distilled products from their own cider orchards while sitting in their brand-new Arts and Crafts-style Brandy House.
It was near this same time (2005) that the government of British Columbia eased up on its licensing regulations for small-scale distilleries, and the first craft distillery opened soon after, in the form of Okanagan Spirits. It seemed inevitable that all the pieces came together at the right time for merridale ciderworks to join in the nascent artisanal distillery movement in the province. In response to the growing interest, an Artisan Distillers Guild of BC has been formed to collaborate on developing the industry, and to advocate for inclusion in the policies and regulations that currently support the thriving local wine industry. Currently, less than 10 craft distillers are operating in the province and they are working hard to build the burgeoning industry.