Take a shot at Urban Distilleries

Urban Distilleries is a small batch micro-distillery, and Kelowna’s largest and oldest distillery at that. Located at No. 6 – 325 Bay Avenue in Kelowna, it’s just a stone’s throw from downtown, and worth the venture.

Outside view of Urban Distilleries.

Outside view of Urban Distilleries.

Owner-Operator (& Master Distiller) Mike Urban runs the operation, and greeted us as we walked in.

First view as you walk into the store front.

First view as you walk into the store front.

As you walk in, it’s a broad open space. A casual couch in the corner makes the space feel homey and welcome. There is no clutter, no unnecessary displays or ads. Everything seemed pretty precise, which I enjoyed.

We walked around to take everything in, chattering with each other and with Mike Urban. He was happy to answer any and all questions we had, even if we ended up asking them two or three times.

Neatly tucked away in a hallway were some aging barrels, already purchased for over $4,500. The contents of which could fill over 100 bottles. If I had $4,500 handy, I would probably buy myself a newer car, but if you have money to spend, why not spend it. #NotBitter

Pre-purchased barrels aging.

Pre-purchased barrels aging.

You may receive a complimentary tasting of an individual spirit, or opt to pay a $5 fee to be able to sample all of the spirits in the line up. We opted to try them all, for science! The lineup went from light to dark to flavoured items. So vodka, gin, whiskey, and then into the flavoured vodkas. I am not generally a fan of vodka, but the clouds have lifted and I could definitely be swayed to have it again if it were the Spirit Bear Vodka. Served warm, it was easy and smooth – no bite at all. It could only get better if chilled. The gin was equally as delicious. The single malt whiskey had a long lasting finish.

In the flavoured line up was a vanilla vodka. Best flavoured vodka. It has a whole Tahitian vanilla bean in the bottle, and it is so subtle and not overwhelming. It was not like anything else I have sampled currently on the market. Espresso vodka was next; this tasted like coffee infused vodka. Pretty straightforward and while it was not my favourite, my partner did thoroughly enjoy it himself. Lastly, we had a hot pepper vodka. The exact name of which I cannot recall. It smelled normal, but it packed quite a punch. I like spice, and this is definitely something I would use in Caesars to have some extra kick!

The Tasting Bar

The Tasting Bar

We had a quick tour in the back where we got to peruse and talk with Mike about the distilling processes, and simple questions like how long do you keep these barrels filled? Around four years. Where are they from? Tennesse – Used from Jack Daniels.

The main kettle - used to brew the vodka and whiskey.

The main kettle – used to brew the vodka and whiskey.

I’m curious as to how the brass stays so shiny!

The small kettle - used only for Gin.

The small kettle – used only for Gin.

Mike explained that the smaller kettle is used only for gin. The reason behind this is that gin has to be infused with botanics, and that flavour is difficult to remove from the main kettle. If there weren’t two kettles, the spirits would all have that taste.

We ended up bringing a bottle of gin and a pack of Fentimans imported tonic water home with us for a nice memory… or just for a delicious G&T.

Urban Distilleries is well worth the visit, and just steps away from downtown Kelowna. a lovely addition to part of your weekend, and your liquor cabinet.

Bluetail Sushi & Bistro

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Before going to Bluetail, I had heard many people rave about the food. Easily persuaded, if someone says a certain restaurant is good, I will eventually make my way there. While they don’t have an actual website, they do have Facebook and Twitter. Also found on UrbanSpoon, they have a damn good rating. Why wouldn’t I go… eventually? A while back they had a Groupon available, and I just happen to have a love affair with buying Groupons. So there it was, the perfect opportunity.

Bluetail Sushi & Bistro is located just off of Highway 97 at 102-1675 Commerce Avenue. Bluetail was recently nominated on Okanagan Life as some of the best sushi in Kelowna. Best of Kelowna 2014 according to Kelowna Now hasn’t yet been announced, but I’m sure it’ll be listed there also. 

Walking into Bluetail, the place was very nearly full. Waitstaff was quick to greet and seat us, and soon after we had water and menus to start. Looking over the menu, it seemed like the best bang for buck would be to get the lunch combo. We were out for lunch with a $20 credit, it was fitting. The lunch combination offered a miso or clear soup, and two basic rolls for $12. Perfect. I ordered a mild miso soup, dynamite roll and black California roll. The food arrived SO FAST.

Miso is miso is miso is miso. My soup tasted like soup. Spot on. I was a little disappointed because normally I tend to find that dynamite rolls are spicy, but mine was lacking in heat. It tasted like a regular roll, still tasty but not with any kind of spice or heat. The black California roll was something else. Black rice was used, so it was a sort of Dalmatian look to it, and it tasted great!

I am no food connoisseur, I know what I like and that’s that. This I liked.

- RM

Hiking the Spion Kop trail

When you make it to the summit of Spion Kop in the Lake Country, it’s like being on top of the Okanagan.

The name Spion Kop is Dutch for “Look out hill.” From the top you can see Okanagan Lake on one side and Wood Lake on the other. It’s a beautiful view of the Valley.

Below are some pictures we took while hiking the trail. Also, scroll to the bottom for a pdf of the trail, which is available in brochure format at the trail head, and directions on how to get there. The driving directions are in the brochure.

photo 1We’re still smiling after making it to the top.

photo 1(1)The trails were well maintained in parts, but in others, it was challenging trying to navigate the loose rocks. Parts of the trail were clearly chewed up by ATV riders and dirt bikers.

photo 2Our dog Odin had a long nap after we got home.

photo 2(1) photo 4This truly is a million-dollar view. What an amazing place to live.

photo 5 photoClick the image below for the full trail guide.

Walking trails- DW

Vernon Winter Carnival was a good time

Vernon Winter Carnival is one of the Okanagan’s oldest events.

This year’s event was super-hero themed and packed with action. It was a place to see hot air balloon pilots show off their skills in the popular Hot Air Balloon Fiesta and watch the floats go by during the annual parade.

The two-week carnival lasted Feb. 7-16, and it got good reviews. The Vernon Morning Star says the “Carnival delivers the goods.”

We brought the kids to the Kids Carnival at the Boys and Girls’ Club. There were bouncy castles, face painters, big building blocks and hotdogs. It was a good time.

Okanagan photographer Wayne Emde got some great pictures of the event. Were you there? View the massive photo gallery.

Fright Nights in Vancouver

Frightnight

We were looking for a Halloween scare.

Heading to Vancouver at the end of October and looking for some freaky fun, we stopped in at the PNE.

The amusement park was dressed up for Fright Nights, complete with haunted houses, actors playing ghouls and lots and lots of fog to make the walk throughout the grounds spooky.

Our thoughts on the event after the jump.

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Winning the lottery

Okanagan Spirits, a world-class distillery, held a lottery for whiskey lovers to win the chance to buy a rare bottle of its single-malt. We were lucky enough to pick up a bottle. But not just any bottle.

ImageOkanagan Spirits is renowned for its distilled creations, including gin, vodka and fruit spirits. It made only 264 bottles of single-malt whiskey. The first 40 are kept by the owners. Bottles No. 41 and 42 go to the Mayor of Kelowna Walter Gray and the premier of B.C. Christy Clark, who is also the MLA in West-Kelowna.

Bottle No. 43 landed in our hands!

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Here’s how Okanagan Spirits describes the whiskey:

After six years of barrel ageing in French and American Oak, this Single Malt is smooth, non-peated and combines solid forest notes of toasted oak with more delicate tones of vanilla, plum, raisins, caramel and spice.

We simply describe it as delicious.

Why not visit Okanagan Spirits?

Their distilleries are located in downtown Kelowna at 267 Bernard Avenue and in Vernon at 2920 28th Avenue. They do excellent tastings for $5, and a tasting is free if you buy a bottle.