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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

The Head, the Heart and the Tail....

I hope everyone is having a lovely Hallmark holiday today! A ‘Hallmark Holiday’ is what Richard calls Valentines Day. Usually Richard would normally be away somewhere working as a Trip Director on this day, and I would often have VIP Night at the car show in Toronto, to walk around the 2 million square feet big, Metro Convention Centre with 3,000 of my closest friends from the Automotive Industry in Canada as my Valentines! I’m so glad those days of walking around for hours on end in high heels is over with! It would take me days for my feet to recover, and I frankly don’t think I could do it now with my leg.

And now on to more positive things on the Island!

I woke up to this beautiful handmade Valentine’s Day note from my romantic Richard. We don’t usually exchange cards, so I was very surprised that he had made me a card this morning!

As per usual on Sunday morning, we watched ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ as we anticipated going to Courtenay for my strength training session at noon. The Island is getting hammered again today with snow. The forecast is for another day of snow tomorrow or as Richard calls it ‘ a third wave’ or a ‘triple whammy’ of snow 3 days in a row!

The driveway has not been plowed out of Lighthouse RV park, so I’m glad we have 4WD in Jerry to get us through the snow.

The roads up to Courtenay were not too bad for driving, but there were still some impatient, aggressive drivers on the road, which was a bit frustrating.

The Fanny Bay Inn was closed today for a snow day. If you look closely at the picture above which I took from Jerry as Richard was driving, the guy is wearing shorts in the photo! Only on the Island acknowledgment that winter has arrived - albeit for a short time!

The roads were in pretty good shape as we drove up to Courtenay. They looked like they had been recently cleared. The snow was still falling though and it definitely felt like a winter wonderland on the North Island.

We gave ourselves 50 minutes for the 20 minute drive to Courtenay and we arrived with plenty of time for my appointment.

Today I worked on more reps than we had ever done before. My strength trainer says I truly am “Wonder Woman” to be able to do as much as I’m doing in such a short time. Its kind of funny that Paul (originally from Ireland) doesn’t know as much about the Comox Valley area of Vancouver Island as I do. Last time I was there, while I was working out, I told him about the 1946 earthquake and the information on how Deep Bay dropped, and how the houses in the area lost their chimneys. He went home and told his partner Abbie (who is my osteopath) and now he wants some new factoids every time I’m at strength training, so he can impress Abbie!

We headed to Canadian Tire after strength training to buy some 10lb free weights for me and a foam roller. My knees are getting tight because my quads are so tight, so now I need to foam roll them after working out. It seems that one thing just leads to another! Anyway, now I’ve got the proper equipment and I can keep working out in Newman on my own, when I‘m not visiting Paul. Richard needed more windshield wiper fluid for Jerry too. It seems like we have been using a lot of wiper fluid lately in our travels!

So what does the Head, the Heart and the Tail have to do with our day on Valentines Day?

Keep reading...this is where it gets very, very interesting.

If you are faithful blog readers, you will remember that we found a vodka that Richard really, really liked at the Farmer’s Market in Courtenay a week ago Saturday called ‘Unruly Vodka’ made by Wayward Distillery. We said that we would visit the distillery the next time we were in Courtenay, and we hadn’t been up to Courtenay all week, until today. The distillery is open 7 days a week, rain or shine, so what else did we have to do on a snowy day?

Logo on the building for Wayward Distillation House, Courtenay.

Wayward Distillation House, Courtenay. The distillery is in an industrial area of Courtenay, one block up from Canadian Tire, off the Coastal Hwy 19A, in Courtenay.

We were greeted by Avery who was working today at the Wayward Distillation House. Avery is an apprentice distiller who has come to work at the distillery and learn about how to make spirits. She is from the mainland in B.C. Wayward Distillation House was started by Dave Brimacombe and his wife Andrea. After leaving the Canadian Forces, they started the distillery with employees that are all ex-military or military spouses. Dave says “we build a sense of community in the military that usually isn’t’ replicated in casual employment on the civilian side. So everyone who works with us, we spent so much time developing real relationships with them and it makes it so much easier to operate together.”

The team at Wayward Distillation House.

The uniqueness of this ’Unruly Vodka’ is that the vodka is made from distilling mead - or fermented honey - into vodka. They also make Gin from mead (we both are not gin fans, so we were not interested in the gin), and Rum.

The distillery will ship anywhere in Canada if you are interested in trying out their products. Their logo is “Fundamentally Against the Grain” and they are the first distillery in Canada to produce spirits from 100% B.C. honey. The distillery has two demonstration hives on the premises.

The bees are cared for by a local beekeeper in Courtenay. The honey for their spirits is produced in Peace River, B.C. on the mainland. The distillery started off by purchasing the honey from these dedicated beekeepers in Peace River when they had only had 400 bees, and now that the distillery production has grown, there are over 1,600 worker bees producing honey exclusively for Wayward Distillery. The worker bees are moved around by the beekeepers, so sometimes they are on clover (primarily), but they may be in an orchard, or a forest at times, which adds to the uniqueness of the final flavour of the spirits.

Wayward’s spirits have won many gold and silver awards in competition, which are all listed on their website. Local restaurants, non-B.C. Liquor stores, as well as the farmer’s market, carry their spirits. Their gin is also exported to some Michelin star restaurants in Europe for consumption.

The distillery has branched out into selling scented candles. The candles are not made with beeswax though, so we didn’t buy any.

We went for a tour of the distillery to understand the process of how they turn honey into spirits.

The distillery is shipped honey from the beekeepers in Peace River, B.C., which they keep in the back of the warehouse. Once it is time to start making spirits, they put the honey in the metal container called ARNOLD (on the right of the photo) and add water, yeast and enzymes to break the honey down, so it starts to ferment into mead. Honey is naturally antibacterial, so to ferment it, they need to add the yeast and enzymes. After about 10 days, the honey has turned into mead and then it is time to start the distilling process.

A visual of the entire processing area.

A close up of the stills.

Once the mead is moved over into the stills it is about a 4.5 hour process to turn the mead into spirits. When the spirits are ready for bottling there are 3 things that come off the spirits: ‘The Head’, ‘The Heart’ and ‘The Tail’.

‘The Head’ or ‘fore shots’ are the volatile, low boiling point alcohols given off at the start of distillation and include: methanol, acetone, esters, and acetaldehyde. The Head is not drinkable and can cause poisoning if drunk. Think ‘moonshine’ and you will know what I mean!

‘The Heart’ or ‘spirit’ is the part of a distillate produced during distillation that is separated and kept to make the alcoholic beverages. It is the good tasting part of the distillation that is safe to drink and digest and is ethanol alcohol. Since ethanol has a boiling point of 78.2C it makes it easy to separate from water by distillation.

‘The Tails’ or ‘faints” are alcohols and other substances that have low high points and are given off at the end of distillation. ‘The Tails’ typically include: propanol, butyl alcohol, amyl alcohol, fusel alcohols, acetic acid, and furfural (smells of almonds). At Wayward Distillation House, the distiller can tell by the taste, when it is time to bottle the spirits. The team all pitches in and once ‘The Hearts’ are all distilled, they put ‘The Tails’ or faints back into the still for the next batch of distilling.

We really enjoyed our visit to Wayward Distillery and I also got a chance to try a shot of their best selling Krupnik = Spiced Honey Liqueur, which Avery told me tasted like ‘Christmas in a glass’. I enjoyed the small shot of the liqueur, but I don’t think I could handle too much of the Krupnik. The taste of Krupnik reminded me of something that people do shots with when playing golf - FIREBALL!

I’m not a fan of that either!

Learning....Richard really likes learning.

Heading back to the car after visiting Wayward Distillation House.

Stocking up. I think a few bottles of this tasty ‘Unruly Vodka’ will be heading back to Ontario with us in the spring!

We headed home to Fanny Bay and the roads were getting a lot sloppier.

Slick, snow covered roads. We took our time driving home, even though we wanted to catch the last of the golf from Pebble Beach on TV.

I was cheering for Jordan Speith today. He came 3rd, which was still a great finish, but not the day he had hoped for after leading the tournament for the first 3 days.

I made nachos for lunch when we got home from Courtenay. We are trying to use up the big pot of leftover chilli!

Next up was to make Butternut squash carrot ginger soup in the Instant Pot.

It looks like we might have another day of snow tomorrow, so I’m not sure if we will get out to explore or hike tomorrow. I guess we will have to wait and see!

We really enjoyed our trip to the Wayward Distillation House today to learn all about the Head, the Heart and the Tail on Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

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