How did an Icebreaker Captain and a Professor of Organic Chemistry come together to form a distillery?
An ancient Alchemist, believed to be from Egypt, first discovered the distillation process. He thought it was some kind of revelation from God. Early Settlers to North America were quite comfortable with their use of distilled spirit. To them spirits were their only source of stimulant, anaesthetic, disinfectant, vitamins, tranquilizer and cleaning fluid. We value a more modern outlook at Island Spirits. It is our belief that the best uses of distilled spirit are to promote conversation and help define who you are. The first is obvious. The second is less tangible. If you care enough to do a bit of research into the quality and purity of the drink you enjoy, that makes the statement you are a discerning and informed individual.
We have a history of experimental distillation spanning many decades. We got together to pool knowledge and experience about seven years ago. This fuelled some innovative new processes and some friendly rivalry.
One of the prototype stills made during
the 'scale up' phase.
We scaled up, did some more inventing and formed Island Spirits Distillery after friends insisted we market our elixirs. An impressive array of stills now produce uncommonly good products. For example, we have developed the use of a 480mm Vacuum still to finish our products. This is equivalent to transporting the still 3,000 feet above the peak of Mount Everest. We call it retrieving the Angels share.
We have learned a lot. People ask: How many times do you distil? Well, contemporary thinking doesn’t really apply to us anymore. Our differential back pressure still is calibrated to circulate the vapours a hundred times or more, before finally escaping into the bottle – crystal clear.
We have learned that highly refined clear spirits are better for you. The colloquial wisdom of no hangover the next day is one proof. People allergic to regular commercial gin and vodka enjoying pHROG products is another proof. The final proof is provided by liquid chromatography and a GC/MS test (Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry) conducted at the University of Toronto indicating uncommon levels of purity.
We have learned that with a judicial mixture of Science, Art, Skill and Patience, it is possible to make an absolutely superb product. There are lots of periodicals advertising the World’s best Gins and Vodkas. We buy these and blind taste them against ours. We invite our friends to participate. This has resulted in quite a stock of ‘World’s Best’ products no one wants to drink.
We learned that the character of Gin can be improved if allowed to age. The complex compounds in the botanicals need time to evenly diffuse into the liquor.
We learned there is a time versus quality balance. High quality fermentations need lower temperatures and take longer. Very high quality distillations need to exceed a ninety percent reflux ratio under precisely controlled temperatures. Computers are handling that task for us now.
We learned what gives you a hangover. It is trace amounts of Propanol, Isopentanol, Methyl Butanol and Iso Butanol. We also learned how to get rid of them.
DISTILLERS COMMENTS SUMMER 2011.
We have built a new fermentation room and workshop behind the Distillery. It turned out well and will help in the process. New this year is still number six. A beautiful piece of German craftsmanship, custom made to our specs over in the fatherland. The original stills are still doing all we want, but this new one will kick things up a level. We have added 2 new sales people for the summer and are expecting a busy one. Open Thursday to Saturday 12 to 4:30 or phone 250 335-0630 to arrange something different.
Experiments continue – Hollunderblutin is the new current favorite. Fresh elderflower, a hint of sugar and very delicious.
We have added a new process chiller. This was custom designed and built by Advantage Engineering of Greenwood Indiana. We now have the capability to run three stills simultaneously during the heat of the summer.
We have requests for a supply line to Japan, China, Spain, Ontario and the US. I tell all these folks the same thing. Leave us alone – we are having trouble keeping Hornby Island supplied - along with BC and Alberta. Everything produced goes out the door. It is quite common to be sold out of some of the favorites.
To all our loyal followers: The philosophy will never change. Simply the best or nothing at all.