October 26, 2013

Odd Society Spirits ~ the media event

About ten days ago your faithful correspondent received an invite from a public relations firm to attend a private, media-only event at Odd Society Spirits. Followers of The Murray Chronicles on at least three continents, possibly four, will remember my earlier post about this new craft distiller in Vancouver. But media? Am I a member of the media? Is The Murray Chronicles a publication? The definitions of ten or fifteen years ago don't apply anymore, and there's vodka to be tasted. I replied affirmatively.

A week after the invite I appeared at the appointed hour. Odd Society Spirits has changed since my last visit. There's a new awning, inviting windows and a great interior that boasts a fantastic looking bar.

There's also a new partner to Gordon Glanz and Miriam Karp, in Joshua Beach, fresh off a flight from the EU. Josh was a fellow student of Gordon's in Scotland, where they both earned degrees in distilling. Friendly and engaging, Josh is as passionate as is Gordon when talking about spirits.

Eventually the invited journos assembled and the tasting and tour began. Phones were pulled out of pockets to take pictures, though some of us had actual cameras. Some even had notebooks and pens, but not your faithful scribe; it's hard enough lugging around this clunky camera thing.

The first spirit produced by the Odd Society is East Van Vodka. Made from malted barely, it has a slight taste, ever so subtle, not unlike malted barley perhaps. My initial impression was to the sweetness and thickness of the vodka. I'm no expert but it was extremely pleasing and it went down very smoothly. Wonderfully in fact.

Next up: a delicious cocktail created by guest bartender Matt Martin called Odd Aviation. Some fresh lemon and a wee bit of Luxardo Maraschino, a couple ounces of East Van Vodka,  and ... yes, this is good too.

Now, at this point I haven't eaten anything all day, apart from a couple of double espressos, and I don't think that counts as actual eating. I probably should eat some of the great looking canapes that have arrived for the media, which includes me of course, but I'd hate to be the first to do so. Better to wait I think, and at present I have only the mildest desire to operate heavy machinery.

And with the finishing of that first cocktail, or was it my second, the tour of operations began. The two 350 litre copper pot stills from Germany remain impressive, and the 4.5 metre vodka column, next to a new floor-to-ceiling glass wall is very much a highlight. The first barrels of whisky are present and could be the highlight three years from now.

However, getting back to the vodka, and why not I thought, as a member of the media, the next cocktail from Matt Martin was called Sour Owl and featured an Odd Society Creme de Cassis created by Herve Martin of The French Table. This was a dangerously deceiving drink indeed. It went down smoothly, without any indication of its 2 ounces of vodka. I'm now beginning to think more seriously about eating something, anything, or possibly driving a large tractor trailer rig through the mountains. In the end, the canapes, from nearby Kessel and March, won out, and were delicious, especially the salmon, horseradish and dill on potato slices.

Odd Society Spirits is open to the public for sales, tastings, tours and cocktails. It is a true craft distillery, meaning all spirits are fermented and distilled on site, made from BC ingredients, and produced in small batches using traditional methods. East Van Vodka is already available at some private liquor stores and featured in some restaurants around town. Wallflower Gin, the second spirit to be released, is expected by early 2014. I hope there is a media event for that release too.

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2013.

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