Women of the Still

Ten years ago when Lorien Schramm and her now husband, Tyler Schramm were starting Pemberton Distillery, there were few other craft distilleries in BC. Now they are popping up all over the province, not as quickly as craft breweries, but slowly and surely people are buying local spirits in addition to wine, produce, and other fare.

Lorien (who was preparing to give birth to their second child when we spoke) is my fellow distillery sister on the Sea to Sky. I’m working from home, so I’ll be around. Unless of course I go into labour she laughs. Having had my first child a year or so earlier, I know she is only kind of joking. Like most of the other women in the distillery movement, she sits more on the administrative side. Her background in business is a perfect match for Tyler’s distilling-focused expertise. Although Lorien and I both work long hours and have struggled with the nuances of working with our partners, balancing childcare, and all that comes with being a true family business, we agree that support from community is wonderful. There are few other jobs where we can bring our children to markets and have them at our sides while we work.

I ask Lorien about her experience doing sales and working behind the tasting room bar while being pregnant.

“With my first, I was out there doing events with my big belly and some people really struggled with putting the two together”

I couldn’t agree more. I hustled at farmers’ markets until two weeks before my son was born. One man said to me, “That’s different, you know selling alcohol and being pregnant”

To which I said:”Well, my friend, women have businesses and women have babies.

Still, it’s difficult for some people to accept. One has to consider what it’s like for female bartenders in their childbearing years, what that world is like to navigate, never mind the hard labour of any profession involving spirits. Whether you are shaking cocktails behind the bar or pitching a mash or up on a ladder adjusting a still, the booze business is labour intensive.

This is one reason why Miriam Karp and Mia Glanz of Odd Society Spirits muse on its appeal more to men than women. In the vein of traditional family businesses, Gordon Glanz is the distiller behind Odd Society, but his wife and daughter work closely with him, doing sales, HR, product development, and everything else it takes to run a successful business.

“Lots of distilleries are run by couples,” Miriam reminds me. “The men couldn’t do it without us!”  So true.

In the cases of Sheringham, Maple Leaf, Wayward, and many more, it is the perfect blend of male-female counterparts that make up a successful team, often with men leaning more toward the technical aspects; the women, along the lines of communication. Lisa Simpson excels at exactly this kind of leadership role. As proprietor, co-owner, and self-described “master of everything” at Liberty Distillery on Granville Island, Lisa takes care of all aspects of running the business while a male distiller makes the products to her specifications. When I ask her why we seem to take on these roles at distilleries, she replies, “We are firing on all cylinders at all times, we collaborate. Women are carving out space in a new area and doing it well.” I find there is still negative stigma around hard alcohol and women’s consumption of it. Beer and wine are somehow acceptable for women to drink, but the perception is that hard alcohol is too potent. The flip side of this is the resurgence of the cocktail movement, which is quickly increasing in popularity. Odd Society is situated in the middle of heaps of breweries, and women often bring their partners in for a cocktail, a welcome break from the beer crawl. Mia Glanz gladly serves them from behind the bar and often serves them the product she developed, her Mia Amata Amaro. The stigma of women being the  “little lady behind the man” in distilling hasn’t changed for nearly enough people.

I was working a market a while ago and a gentleman who popped by the booth was addressing questions to the man I was with (who just happened to be a friend visiting from out of town and not even involved in the distillery). When I started to respond to his questions, he said, “Nu-uh. I want to talk to the man.” I politely informed him (with steam emitting from my ears) that if he was hoping to taste or have the chance to make a purchase, he was going to have to talk to me. He has subsequently made a few purchases from us, mostly because I think he is afraid of me. While men and their fabulous brains and hearts are devoted to the task of making beautiful spirits, there are often women running every other aspect of the distillery: dealing with the tax man, promoting, popping up farmers’ market tents, doing social media and marketing, managing people.

It wasn’t always this way. The alembic still was invented by a woman, and women were charged with distilling while men laboured in the harvest. Due to many cultural factors since then, women have not been associated with spirits. Add to that the manual labour required in most start-up distilleries, and it means doors have not been all that wide open for women. But the future looks different. As the cocktail bartender movement shifts and women are becoming heralded as world class in these circles, we should expect more women to step up to the mash tun as well. As women gain more visibility in the booze industry overall, we’ll see more of our sisters taking positions as master blenders and head distillers. For now, we will be doing everything else it takes to keep those stills running.


Enter the Boozewitch…

Gillespie's Boozewitch products

Under the Boozewitch line at the distillery, we make shrubs. No, we don’t grow teeny little trees and this is not the lead in to a Monty Python joke. Shrubs (as they were known in the colonial era) are better known and understood today as drinking vinegars or sipping vinegars. Back in the day when there was no refrigeration or canning techniques, they would salt, sugar, smoke and essentially pickle things in order to keep them past the harvest. Essentially, shrubs were born out of necessity.

Bartenders have been putting their spin on their own versions of shrubs for ages. Some are delightful. Pineapple shrub from Pok Pok in Portland really brought them into popularity.

People always want to know what to do with the shrubs, well folks… Here you have it. Think of a shrub as a fancy complex piece of lemon or lime. What do you do with lemon or lime? Well, use it to cook with! Salad dressings, soups, pasta sauce, sauce in general, cheese plate, over grilled meats (or tofu) as a marinade, to finish dishes the way chefs at nice restaurants do it, to give the dish a little brightness.

Here is an awesome salad dressing

1/3 bottle Boozewitch Shrub (for salad dressing I like Plum Rosemary, Blueberry Lime and Tamarind Pineapple, but experiment!)
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Maple Syrup
1/2 cup avocado oil
1/2 a finely chopped shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
Shake and serve

With shrubs, less is more. They so concentrated and so flavourful. If you add too much, you’ll know. Your food/drink will taste, well, gross.

I like adding shrubs to highballs to make ’em fancy. Throw a sprig of mint, basil or thyme in there and you have yourself a fancy cocktail.
Sin Gin, Soda, Boozewitch Rhubarb Angelica Ginger Shrub with a sprig of thyme and a slice of apple is delightful
Gastown Shine, Soda, Boozewitch Plum Rosemary Shrub with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of orange: yum

One of my favourite cocktails to use a shrub in is a sour. Here are two of our favourite combinations:

Mango Tango
2 ounces reposado tequila
1 ounce mango juice (splurge for the good stuff)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
5 drops Boozewitch Chili Lime Shrub
1 egg white (save the yolk for custard)
Dry shake (no ice)
Wet shake (with ice)
Strain into a chilled coupe

Elderflower Sour
2 ounces Sin Gin
1 ounce Boozewitch Elderflower Elixir (very limited)
Juice of half a lemon
2 drops Boozewitch Peach Lavender Shrub
1 egg white (more custard 😉 )
Dry shake (no ice)
Wet Shake (ice)
Strain into a chilled coupe

Experiment. Think of it as a fancy citrus, don’t use too much and have some fun!



Cocktail lovers!

Our production is amping up. There are a lot of thirsty folks out there.

Our new hours are

Wednesday and Thursday 1-6 for bottles and tastings

Friday and Saturday 1-12

Cocktail service will only be 4:30-Midnight on FRIDAYS and SATURDAYS


Famous Foods, Vancouver

Lunita’s Mexican, Sunshine Coast

Plethora Fine Foods, Sunshine Coast

JAK’s – Multiple Locations

Donald’s Market – Multiple Locations

Pete’s Meat, Vancouver

Well Seasoned, Langley

Otter Coop, Langley

Be Clean Naturally, Squamish

Gillespie’s Fine Spirits, Squamish

Green Olive, Squamish

Blackcomb Liquor Store, Whistler

Meinhardts, Vancouver

Nester’s, Squamish

Modern Bartender, Vancouver

Legacy Liquor Store, Vancouver

Home on the Range Organics, Vancouver

Be Fresh Main Street, Vancouver

Welks Mart, Main Street

Olives, Whistler

UPDATED! Where to find Gillespie’s Products in BC April 2018

17 Mile Liquor Store, Sooke

21 Steps Kitchen and Bar, Whistler

Acorn, Vancouver

Backcountry Brewing, Squamish

Brewery Creek, Vancouver

Brix and Mortar, Vancouver

Big Rock Brewery, Vancouver

Bistro Wagon Rouge, Vancouver

Blackcomg Liquor Store, Whistler

Burrard Public House, Port Moody

Royal Dinette, Vancouver

Bainbridge Liquor Store, Burnaby

Boulevard Restaurant, Vancouver

Basalt, Whistler

Burrard Liquor Store, Vancouver

Blackfish Liquor Store, Sunshine Coast

Cascadia Liquor Stores, Vancouver Island

Cenote, Victoria

Culinary Capers, Vancouver

City Hall Liquor Store, Mission

Clark and Co., Victoria

Clayburn Liquor Store, Abbotsford

Coal Harbour Liquor Store, Vancouver

The Copper Coil, Squamish

The Cascade Room, Vancouver

Cotto Enoteca, Burnaby

Chambar, Vancouver

Campagnolo, Vancouver

Cook St Liquor Store, Victoria

The Crab Apple Cafe, Squamish

Darby’s, Vancouver

Dollarton Liquor Store, North Vancouver

Downtown Liquor Store, Squamish

Edgemont Fine Wines, Spirits, Ales, North Vancouver

Edible Canada, Granville Island

Eldorado Liquor Store, Squamish

Foamers Folly, Pitt Meadows

Fable Diner & Kitchen, Vancouver

Firefly fine Wines and Ales, Vancouver

Jak’s, South Granville

The Gull Liquor Store, North Vancouver

Greenrock Liquor Store, Nanaimo

Garrison Liquor Store, Chilliwack

Golden Ears Liquor Store, Maple Ridge

Sea to Sky Gondola, Sea to Sky Highway

The Gumboot Restauarant, Roberts Creek

Howe Bound Brewing, Squamish

Hot Springs LRS, Agassiz

Harbour Liquor Store, Madeira Park

Jak’s New West, New Westminster

John B LRS, Coquitlam

Jimmy’s Tap House, Vancouver

Juniper, Vancouver

Jake’s Liquor Store, Port Moody

West Coast Liquor, Kerrisdale Vancouver

Kingfisher, Maple Ridge

Liquor Quicker, Tsawwassen

Lunitas, Gibsons

Langley Liquor Store, Langley

Little Mountain Liquor Store, Chilliwack

Legacy Liquor Store, Vancouver

Marine Gateway Liquor Store, Vancouver

Mission Springs Liquor Store, Mission

Mountain Retreat LRS, Squamish

Nanaimo Northtown LRS, Nanaimo

Norman Rudy’s, Squamish

Northern Quarter, Victoria

The Office, Maple Ridge

O’Hare’s, Richmond

Olo Restaurant, Victoria

The Other Liquor Store, Chilliwack

The Outpost, Maple Ridge

Pepe’s Squamish

The Pony, Pemberton

Pronto/Prontino, Vancouver

Pacific Liquor, New Westminster

Red Beard Cafe, Kamloops

Sandpiper Liquor Store, White Rock

Sea to Sky Hotel LRS, Squamish

Speeds LRS, Delta

Steamworks LRS, Gastown

Sunshine Hill Liquor Store, Delta

Samz, Surrey

Sumas Mountain, Abbotsford

Sechelt Lighthouse LRS, Sechelt

Spice Root Kitchen and Bar, Squamish

Smith’s, Victoria

Salted Vine, Squamish

Spinnaker’s, Victoria

Saha Eatery, Squamish

Fergie’s Cafe, Squamish

Southside Diner, Whistler

Spirits of Mt Seymour, North Vancouver

Toby’s LRS, North Vancouver

Tag LRS, Multiple Locations

Town Centre LRS, Delta

Upper Ganges LRS, Salt Spring Island

Vessel LRS, Vistoria

Viti Wine and Lagers, Delta & Vancouver

Value On, Burnaby

The Witch of Endor, Maple Ridge

White Spot, Squamish

Wickanninish Inn, Tofino

West Coast Liquor, Kerrisdale, Burnaby

West Coast Liquor, YVR






Beer Cocktails on Global News

Kelly will be mixing up beer cocktails on Global News for National Beer Day on Saturday April 7th

Here are the cocktail recipes

Boysenberry by the Beach
1 oz Gillespie’s Sin Gin
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Cassis
Juice of half a lime
Bar spoon Boozewitch Blueberry Lime shrub
Backcountry Boysenberry Sour
Raspberry Spring
1 oz Gillespie’s Raspberry Gin
1/2 oz Gillespie’s Lemoncello
1/2 oz Maraschino
2 oz Pineapple Juice
Juice of half a lemon
Bar spoon Boozewitch Strawberry Black Pepper shrub
Foamers Folly Raspberry Hefeweizen
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