the first few weeks, when it was forced to close under lockdown,
Copper Spirit hasn’t lost its stride and Miguel and Candice have
been able to cover their costs.
“We’ve at least been able to cover utilities and we’ve
never gone into the red during the pandemic,” said Candice.
“Often, when someone bought hand sanitizer, they would
say, ‘Oh, throw a bottle of gin in.’ When you take five years
to build something in a small community, you kind of rally a
cheerleading squad. Everyone’s wanting to see you succeed.”
Five years ago, there was a local pub and a few restaurants,
though no one on the island was focusing on the cocktail
scene. With one child in tow and another on the way, Candice,
a commercial photographer, and Miguel, a visual effects artist,
moved there to escape the rat race of city life. However, when
Miguel still found himself commuting to his job in Vancouver
every day and missing out on island life, the two put their
heads together to figure out what they could do that was still
creatively fulfilling and contributed to the local economy.
That same year, a lot came up for sale that they’d already
had their eye on right down in the cove, and the B.C. Provincial
Government changed their policy on craft breweries and
distilleries, which made it possible to open a small distillery and
still have a viable business; so everything seemed to coalesce at
the right time. That doesn’t mean there weren’t challenges. They
built a building from the ground up and just getting the licenses
and permits to build on the island took almost three years, and
full construction took another two.
“I was pregnant with my boy when we started the project
and he was five years old when we opened,” said Candice.
The finished distillery highlights a purposefully minimalist
vibe, so that patrons focus on each other and not their
surroundings. There is no art on the walls, just a concrete
building warmed up with a wooden bar as a focal point and
green velvet curtains to give it a tactile warmth. Pre-COVID-19,
the bar was dotted with botanicals, but now only beautiful B.C.
awaits outside, surrounding the distillery in its natural embrace
with the local marina right outside the door.
“Being in the tasting lounge for over a year now, there’s
people from every demographic, from all over the world, who
come in and say, ‘Wow, I want to spend time here.’ People can
only get three half-ounce cocktails and it’s so nice to see how
much enjoyment they get from them,” said Candice.
While a food menu is still an eventual aspiration, in the
meantime, Copper Spirit plans to launch a private cocktail
party initiative using a small commercial kitchen and a chef
who follows the couple’s philosophy of local foraging and free-range,
organic ingredients. As for further expansion, that means
getting bigger creatively, not commercially.
D I S T I L L E R Y P R O F I L E
Miguel operating the basement hoist
Copper Spirit Distillery atrium and distillery
10 § POURED CANADA § www.poured.ca