Samples are now being poured at Naramata’s first commercial distillery.
Legend Distilling opened its tasting room earlier this month, offering visitors small-batch vodka and gin produced on site at what used to be a doctor’s office.
Dawn and Doug Lennie acquired the Naramata Road property in September 2013 and set to work renovating it and obtaining a range of regulatory approvals, from a local government rezoning to a liquor manufacturing licence.
For now, they’re the only place selling spirits on the wine-soaked Naramata Bench, although they’re unsure how long they’ll be a solo act.
“We’ll have the opportunity to get established and get our brand established before other ones come along,” Dawn said.
“That, I think, is the big advantage. I also think we have a great location, and that can’t be duplicated, really.
“But I think the disadvantage is it’s going to get easier as more people go through the (regulatory) process,” she continued.
“Like the architects: They’d never done a distillery before. It was the first one, so all those people you’re dealing with don’t have any experience.”
The Lennies, who previously owned a construction company and The Bench Market, hopes to capitalize on the emergence of craft distilling and the loosening of B.C. liquor laws.
Legend’s first batches are limited to about 300 bottles of vodka and 200 bottles of gin, but more product is expected approximately every two weeks.
All the ingredients, such as wheat from the Peace region, are sourced in B.C.
Like craft beer, small-batch spirits are also more flavourful than their mass-produced counterparts.
“We chose to do the vodka unfiltered to start with,” Dawn explained. “It’s got really great flavour from the wheat — a little caramel, a little vanilla — it’s nice and smooth.”
Doug hopes to eventually produce other types of spirits, like whisky, plus flavour-infused varieties using fruit grown on site.
“I think a lot of it’s going to happen next year once we’ve got some inventory and we can do stuff like that. RIght now, we’re just trying to get product out,” he said.
The pair chose the name Legend in order to capitalize on local lore.
For example, the vodka is dubbed Shadow in the Lake, paying homage to Ogopogo, while the gin is called Doctor’s Orders, a nod to Prohibition, when some medical professionals prescribed alcohol for some patients.
“We were trying to get something that could get stories rolling,” Doug said.
“We wanted to definitely get a fun mix.”
The tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a patio available for patrons.
The owners are also seeking an upgraded liquor licence that would eventually enable them to serve cocktails.