use. “Because we don’t ferment on the grain, once we remove all the sugar, we take the grain out and we give it to local farmers to use as livestock feed. So we put it back directly into the food chain.” While the distillery is making strides toward growing their own botanicals, obviously, some plants are better sourced from their native agricultural zones. But that doesn’t mean there is a compromise on quality. They choose only wild- harvested products from all over the world. Their location in the Cowichan Valley plays a significant role in the development of the crops for the distillery. The weather tends to be much warmer than the surrounding districts, lending itself to fertile soil and lush crops. The property they occupy includes a natural spring — water that they use in their spirits. Thus, unlike many business- es that merely occupy land, Ampersand is working it and contributing to the local agriculture. This has led to exper- imenting with some of the crops they are growing along- side other locally-grown organics, finding ways to use less traditional botanicals in new recipes. In fact, to showcase these experiments, the distillery plans on issuing a “limited edition release” of a Nocino liqueur in time for the holidays. The family-run business appears content to keep up with demand in their home province. But what about the rest of the country? Are there plans for wider distribution? Schacht explains that they currently have the right to direct dis- tribution. That means they can deliver directly to private liquor stores, bars and restaurants who want to carry their products. They can also sell at markets, which affords them the opportunity to interact directly with customers. “For the time being, supply and demand is great enough in BC. So until the laws change making it easier to transact across provinces, we’ll probably just remain available in BC.” It’s probably a good choice, as Ampersand’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed in British Columbia. BC Distilled, the premiere distilling event in the province, awarded their spirits “Top Gin” and “Top Vodka” two years running! From an operations perspective, Ampersand focuses on improving efficiencies over adding to the payroll burden. Since the company opened in 2014, the Schachts have only found the need to take on one full-time employee. Jessica chalks that up to getting better at the everyday operations. “We’ve been able to increase our production by really only adding one member to the team, but really tightening up systems and working on efficiencies… we have divided the work up according to expertise, but we all pitch in and do things like bottling and events away from the distillery. It works.” Above all, there’s a real sense that Ampersand has achieved a real connection with their customers and their supply chain. Schacht points out that one of their favourite activ- ities is to connect directly with people at events like the weekly Duncan, BC market. “It’s been a really fantastic journey, and one we’re excited to still be on.”

“As a craft distillery, we make our own alcohol from scratch from 100% raw BC agricultural goods.”

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