‘Spirit’ of giving: Vancouver Island distilleries cashing in on ‘shop local’ trend


WATCH: It’s the busiest time of year for local liquor stores and distilleries as more people choose to give Vancouver Island products this Christmas. April Lawrence reports.

Victoria Caledonian Distillery in Saanich has been distilling local whiskey and brewing beer for nearly three years. And the finished products are finding their way under a growing number of Christmas trees.

“We’re making a local product and that’s what people are looking for is something with local provenance to give as a gift,” said distillery president Graeme Macaloney.

At the Strath liquor store, local products are hot sellers.

“Everybody wants to sort of show off the great things the island has to offer and show it off to their friends that might be visiting them or send it off to wherever,” said Strath Liquor General manager Megan Carson.

Vancouver Island-made gin is one of the biggest sellers but local distilleries are getting creative with products like blueberry and chocolate vodkas.

Carson says the next two weeks are their busiest of the year, with Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve seeing the heaviest traffic. Staff are working extra hours to try to keep up as inventory flies off the shelves.

And like many purchases made this time of year, people are typically willing to spend a bit more.

“Everybody’s sort of looking for that special something, so we tend to sell a little higher level in the price point than we would sort of every day,” said Carson.

Whatever the gift, experts say people are spending more this year than they did the year before. And the push toward Vancouver Island spirits, beer, and wine, is all part of a bigger buy local trend this Christmas, partly due to the rotating strikes at Canada Post.

“People are certainly thinking more local than they may have otherwise, just because of the strike and the uncertainty of knowing whether those parcels you’re buying online will actually get here,” said Brock Smith, Marketing & Entrepreneurship Professor at the UVic Gustavson School of Business.

And local businesses are trying to jump on the opportunity and cash in on the ‘spirit’ of giving.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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