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North Vancouver distillery grabs golds at Canadian Whisky Awards

Because the event is judged blind, it really lets you know your whisky is up to snuff, says Sons of Vancouver co-owner

A distillery in North Vancouver is continuing to gather accolades on the national stage for its excellent small-batch whisky.

Sons of Vancouver had an impressive showing Jan. 19 at the Canadian Whisky Awards in Victoria. After being recognized for making the best whisky in the country last year, the producer brought home another four awards at the 2024 event.

Sons of Vancouver grabbed three gold medals, for Summer Road Trip Across the Midwest; Desert Grass and Blue Agave, and its 2023 bottling of last year’s grand champ, Palm Trees and a Tropical Breeze. It also won silver for Raiding Nonna’s Liquor Cabinet.

Being recognized at the Canadian Whisky Awards makes you feel like you’re doing something right, says Sons co-owner and distiller Jenna Diubaldo.

Since the judging is done by a blind panel, it’s not an event where you enter and automatically expect to win, she said. “This one really validates that your whisky is up to snuff.”

Keeping on trend with last year’s results, independent producers continued to clean up at the 2024 event, Diubaldo said. In the past, the Whisky Awards had been dominated by larger players like Crown Royal and J.P. Wiser’s.

“That’s really how we’re going to see change in the industry – we’re going to start to see more small producers making really flavorful whisky with really interesting blends,” she said. “The industry is on the right track.”

As for how Sons approached their whisky making over the past year, Diubaldo said it was tough not to focus too much on their success with Palm Trees the year before.

“We had to consciously decide, ‘Hey, we’re not going to start making whisky that we think will win awards. We’re just going to keep making whisky that we really like,’” she said.

That’s how they approached Summer Road Trip Across the Midwest, the first product they made after 2022’s bottling of Palm Trees. Diubaldo called it their ode to whisky made in the American Midwest, relying on blending more than barrel finishing to bring out the right flavours.

With Raiding Nonna’s Liquor Cabinet, Sons really went out into left field. “I was a little surprised that one actually medalled, Diubaldo said, describing it as a fun, oddball release somewhere between a whisky and an amaro.

Although that one definitely leans toward the bitter category, “I think we blended it out just right,” she said.

If all this whisky talk has gotten you jazzed about trying one of Sons’s prized blends, you’re going to be disappointed. All of them have sold out.

But after three years of transitioning to making whisky full time, you can expect the Seylynn distillery to put out more rye this year, in less-limited quantities.

The best way to stay in the know about Sons of Vancouver is to join its online mailing list, Diubaldo said.

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