Spirit Strong at Urban Distilleries

The Okanagan’s newest distillery had it’s Grand Opening this evening. Urban Distilleries has the honour of claiming to be one of only about three distilleries in the Okanagan (including one in Vernon and one in Penticton) and the only one focusing on the Vodka and Gin industry. I had a chance to pop in briefly and take a tour with Owner/Distiller Mike Urban who explains his focus in the niche market of Vodka and Gin as opposed to the other distilleries who “have a very limited market, I didn’t really want to get into that market.”

Urban goes on to explain some of the differences you’d taste in their Vodka and Gins, “It’s nice, it’s got an Okanagan feel to it,” as opposed to some other imported varieties. Flavours include, “Juniper berry of course, it has to have juniper in it. There’s some ginger root, cinnamon, orange peel, lemon peel, lavender, apple…” it’s probably the apples that convinced us this local spirit carries the very essence of the Awesome Okanagan.

Urban has spent the last four years learning and refining the distilling process. He studied in Arizona at two different distilleries and even trained under the manufacturers of the equipment. He certainly knows the subtleties and nuances of the distilling process. The signature product of Urban Distilleries is the Spirit Bear line, you can try their Spirit Bear Vodka or Spirit Bear Gin at a number of Okanagan locations, their website goes into further detail. Taken from their site:

Spirit Bears are an endangered and protected sub-species. They are a wonder of Mother Nature. Unlike most bears (Grizzly Bears, Brown Bears, Polar Bears etc) Spirit Bears are not a species in themselves. They are a rare subspecies of the American Black Bear that are only found on Canada’s West Coast. Approximately 10% of Black Bears born in this area carry a genetic trait that gives them White Fur.

Protecting the species is very difficult. You can’t simply breed a male and female Spirit Bear and see Spirit Bear cubs. There’s a 90% chance their cubs will be regular American Black Bears!

Only 400 Spirit Bears remain in the world and part of the mission of Urban Distilleries is to help protect the Spirit Bear. That’s why proceeds from every liquor store sale and double the proceeds from every distillery sale goes to fund the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition

The author didn’t take part in the tasting but you can bet he will imbibe sometime soon and pass on the good word! Read more on their website.

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