A homegrown whisky from Vancouver Island’s deVine Spirits has made a grand entrance on the world stage. Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible pronounced the initial release of deVine’s 2017 Glen Saanich Single Malt to be “as a first bottling, genuinely superb,” and lauded the whisky for the “unfettered brilliance of the malt and the all-round joy of the intense experience.”
deVine is honoured by the high praise, particularly as the rating came in the company of some venerable old Scotches, including several selling for $400 or more. It’s all the more impressive given that Glen Saanich is deVine’s first whisky, and one of the first truly “local” whiskies in BC, made exclusively from locally grown grain that’s malted, mashed, fermented and distilled in Saanich.
Master Distiller Ken Winchester wanted Glen Saanich whisky to express the terroir of its origin, to borrow a phrase from the winemaking world. Although his 20 years of experience in the industry has included training from UC Davis, Michigan State, and Scotland’s Bruichladdich Distillery, Winchester has a longstanding commitment to exploring the possibilities of local ingredients. Ken also founded the first distillery on Vancouver Island in 2007, and created the iconic Victoria Gin.
Prior to Jim Murray’s review, Glen Saanich had already been recognized with a Silver Medal at the 2016 Canadian Whisky Awards – the highest-ever ranking for a BC craft whisky. The first release of Glen Saanich was aged in quarter-cask, once-used Bourbon barrels. Other barrels, both large and small, will age for the next 3 years and beyond. There’s currently a waitlist for the whisky, which is available directly from the distillery, but there will be ongoing releases through 2019. Glen Saanich is $83 plus tax per bottle; a total of 1,000 bottles will be released.
Earlier this month deVine launched a one-of-a-kind second whisky called Ancient Grains, made from barley, khorasan, spelt, emmer, and einkorn. It’s also available directly from the distillery for $72 plus tax.
The deVine tasting room is open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 5:00pm. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, deVine participates in the Victoria Public Market at The Hudson (1701 Douglas Street).