Western Canada's oldest and most internationally awarded craft distillery is heading to Austria next week for the 2013 Worlds Spirits Awards with the aim of becoming North America's only "World Class Distillery," the highest classification in this field.
Okanagan Spirits, with artisan craft distilleries in Vernon and Kelowna, is already classified as a "Master Class Distillery," and has won over 40 medals at past events.
For this year's event, Master Distiller Peter von Hahn pursued the highly coveted World Class Distillery status, a distinction no other North American distillery has received. In order to do so, von Hahn needs a gold medal sweep across a full category, which would mean five gold medals out of five spirits entered in a particular category of alcohol production.
"Canada is not typically seen as a major player in the world of craft distilleries, and the World Spirit Awards spotlights the best of the best, from Austria, Germany, France, and Italy," von Hahn said.
"But we've surprised some people by placing very well in this competition in the past and this year we've decided to dream big."
Okanagan Spirits, with a portfolio of over 25 different types of alcohol made from 100% BC fruit, has done extremely well at previous international distilling events in the past 10 years. For this year's competition, von Hahn has decided to enter 10 of their spirits, including three of their BC fruit liqueurs, five of their Eaux de Vies (BC Fruit Brandies), their Taboo Absinthe, and Aquavit.
The World Spirits Awards is taking place in Klagenfurt, Austria, from March 17 to 20, with the winners being announced on March 17.