Victoria Distillers, originally Victoria Spirits, was owned and operated by president Peter Hunt’s family for seven years at their location on Old West Saanich Road. During this time, the family grew their brand and flagship product, Victoria Gin. While the gin achieved significant success, gaining recognition across the country as the second best-selling premium gin in B.C., the company needed significant capital to take business to the next level. In 2015, the Hunts connected with Grant Rogers and sold the company, moving it to the Sidney waterfront. The new location allowed them to revitalize the building, increase distribution, and grow the tourism aspect of the business.
“In 2016, the company was renamed Victoria Distillers to emphasize what we do rather than what we make,” said Hunt.
The new location lets Victoria Distillers engage with visitors—both locals and tourists—through tours and tastings and share the knowledge and craft of distilling. Their new location also allows the company to play a supportive role in building and connecting with the community, by supporting other local organizations and the environment. “Being a good environmental steward is also a significant part of being a community builder,” said Hunt. “Environmental sustainability is very important to us.”
Throughout the building process, many of the supplies, especially wood, were reused and re-purposed. The wood siding was removed and charred with the Japanese technique called Sugi ban and became the paneling in the lounge and tasting room interiors. The industrial wood pallets that the bottling line arrived in were refurbished into tables for the lounge.
“We have adopted several operational environmental initiatives as well,” said Hunt. “The most significant of these is our geothermal cooling system.”
Like all distilleries, the stills used in production require cold water to condense the alcohol vapors created during the distillation process. When the distillery first opened, the production used 7,000 litres of water to cool the condenser every distillation—sometimes twice a day. Most distilleries follow a similar process, creating tons of hot water that gets dumped down the drain. So, when the distillery renovated the parking lot, they also installed a heat exchanger and a closed loop for the water, with pipes running under the parking lot from the distillery to the hotel next door.
“The distillery now saves 7,000 litres of water every distillation,” says Hunt. This translates into over half a million litres of water a year, while also using the excess heat to warm the hotel.
In the summer the distillery is open seven days a week with tours happening every hour (Hours can be found on the website). These hour long tours and tasting explores the production of gin, whisky, rum and bitters. See their website for more.