A big deal from a small town. 

The Leaders of the Pack: Jason and Alayne MacIsaac

Distillers, Sheringham Distillery, Sooke, B.C.

The craft distilling field in the West sometimes resembles nothing so much as the starting line at the Boston Marathon. There are entrants as far as the eye can see, and in their own way they€™re all quite accomplished€”but as a bystander, how do you tell the great from the merely good?

Well, in the case of former chef Jason MacIsaac and his wife, former marketer Alayne, they separated themselves from the pack early on, starting with a unique location€”Sheringham Point, 20 kilometres east of Sooke€”that was rich in rum-running lore. But it was truly revealed that something special was underfoot when the spirits started dripping off the still. First was the Seaside Gin, made with B.C.-grown white wheat and B.C. malted barley and flavoured with, among other things, local winged kelp for a kissed-by-the-Pacific flavour profile that has a real sense of place. Then came the Japanese-inspired Kazuki Gin, made with cherry blossoms and yuzu zest. And when Victoria bartending legend Shawn Soole came asking for an akvavit, they made that, too.

Just to prove they can excel across the spectrum, they also made a red fife whisky, which was promptly named best whisky in Canada at this year's Canadian Artisan Spirits competition. Any other distiller would have loved to hit just one of these spirited home runs. So the quick answer to the question of how to separate yourself from the pack? Do everything better than everyone else.

WL: What's always in your fridge?
JM & AM: Salad greens in the fridge, and our akvavit is always in our freezer.

WL: What are you drinking this summer?
JM & AM: White negroni: equal parts Sheringham Kazuki Gin, Imperitave Vermouth, Luxardo Bitter Bianco.null

Recipe: Sheringham Cherub Cocktail

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