Sunday, October 24th 2021, 5:55 am - A unique distillery in British Columbia is bringing alcohol into the market through a method that will make people "feel good about drinking".
Located in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, Wayward Distillery, owned by David Brimacombe, is the first of its kind in Canada to use honey as a base for its alcoholic drinks.
“The idea to use honey came from a concern for our environment and my concern for our food system,” said Brimacombe.
It’s all in an effort to help protect the bee population while also preserving local agriculture, one cocktail at a time.
David Brimacombe, CEO, founder and original distiller at Wayward Distillery. (Photo provided)
“Honey is amazing because it's a byproduct of pollination,” explained Brimacombe. “Bees pollinate crops and bees produce honey as a byproduct of doing that. We've been able to use something that isn't in the food chain and it's helping the food chain.”
Brimacombe, who opened Wayward Distillery in 2014, is also passionate about shopping locally. He often sources ingredients like cherries, potatoes, and honey from growers and producers located in the B.C. community.
Wayward is the first distillery in Canada using honey as the base for all of its spirits. (Photo provided)
“It’s so important to support local businesses,” Brimacombe said. “If we don't purchase food from people who are making it, they'll stop making it. So for me and for Wayward, it's absolutely integral that we support the local producers whenever we can. Now not only is our honey from B.C., but most of our ingredients are from right here on Vancouver Island.”
Wayward Distillery offers free tours of their facility and complimentary taste samples to the public. In addition to learning the art of distilling first-hand, guests are also educated on the infamous honeybee while participating in Wayward tours.
Wayward Distillery is the first of its kind in Canada to use honey as a base for its alcoholic drinks. (Photo provided)
“We brought demonstration hives onsite so that our fans and our community could become accustomed to bees,” Brimacombe explained.
The beehive demonstration displays are used as an educational tool to help people understand the importance of bee preservation and its role in protecting the environment.
“You can come and stand around our bees and learn about them and demystify what's going on,” Brimacombe said. “I think it's absolutely wonderful for children, especially to stand with us in a group of bees and not be afraid, because the bees really don't want to hurt us. They're just trying to make honey.”
Unique in both texture and taste, Wayward’s spirits celebrate the taste of 100% B.C. honey. (Photo provided)
Along with showing people how hardworking bees are as creatures, Wayward Distillery also donates 1% of spirit sales to the protection and promotion of bees and pollinators.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic when Wayward Distillery was forced to close its doors, Brimacombe found a way to open doors for others.
“A lot of us really have strong connections to our community, and we saw something we could do to help. So we started making sanitizer and in the beginning we were making it with stuff we could find at the local grocery store,” said Brimacombe.
When word got out to the community, Brimacombe said people started showing up at Wayward Distillery’s doors hoping to grab a bottle of sanitizer of their own.
“One of those police departments drove up three hours to pick up a small box of them. So that's when we realized that there's a bigger problem here then than what people are speaking about. So we started to make more and more and more and we were supplying ambulance services, care homes...all the nonprofit's that that we could.”
Not only was Brimacombe able to make 20,000 litres of hand sanitizer a week for people who needed it most, he was also able to hire several new employees.
Wayward’s spirits can be found at some private liquor stores, and in selected bars and restaurants on Vancouver Island, across the province, and internationally. (From left to right: Sara Unrau, manager; Dave Brimacombe, CEO, founder and original distiller; and Laura Carbonell, head distiller/Photo provided)
“I remember driving around making deliveries... 50 to 150 deliveries everyday.”
Despite the decline of the bee population, the risk of losing local agriculture, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brimacombe always made it his mission to make a positive change in the B.C. community.
“Community has been very important to me. I started Wayward and brought people together that shared my values..every opportunity we've had to make our surroundings better, we've taken it if we could.”
To learn more about Wayward Distillery and their mission, please watch the video that leads this article.