Military personnel plants roots in the Comox Valley and launches unique spirits distillery that uses 100 per cent BC honey
After serving in the military, Dave Brimacombe made Comox Valley his home and founded Canada’s first honey-based distillery.
Why honey, you may ask? Well, Wayward Distillery has a unique story to share on resource sustainability and unparalleled flavour.
Supports healthy honeybee populations
Nestled in the beautiful Comox Valley, Wayward Distillery is on a mission to make a difference in the industry and environment.
“Honey is a calorie-neutral by-product of food pollination,” Brimacombe says. In other words, “bees make food that humans eat and produce honey while they do it. … We are able to take a by-product of BC food production and make wonderful spirits out of it.”
Indeed, the distillery supports BC agriculture and contributes to a healthy and diverse ecosystem by collaborating with a local apiary.
Wayward Distillery has two demonstration hives that are cared for by a local beekeeper. As a result of their production process, Wayward can raise community awareness about the importance of healthy honeybee populations.
When the distillery first started working with an apiary in the Peace Region of BC about seven years ago, the group had 300 hives. Now, they have upwards of 1,700 hives through the growth of the distillery. This growth in the bee population means that more of BC’s food is pollinated by BC’s bees. The distillery contributes to this pollination process and promotes local food security.
Curious about the taste of honey-based spirits and want to support BC agriculture, bees and businesses? Check out their products in our online Marketplace.
Military man found home in the Comox Valley
Brimacombe’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked during his career with the military.
“I worked for 15 years in the Canadian military and I retired early when I was in my early 30s to start the distillery,” Brimacombe says. “In the military, you work for 25 years, so people plan for their retirement when they are 40 to 45 years old. I was planning to run a distillery after my military service, but when BC launched the Craft Distillery Sales Agreement, I decided that I wanted to be the first.” This agreement created a new market for distillers, that could operate similarly to a local brewery, he says. BC liquor manufacturers in this category produce and sell spirit products made from 100 per cent BC agricultural inputs and use traditional distilling techniques.
So, he retired from the military early and opened the seventeenth distillery in the province. “Now, there are over 80 distilleries. 2021 would have been my retirement year, so I am glad I opened 60 distilleries ago,” Brimacombe says.
His frequent cross-country travel inspired the distillery’s name and his military experience helped him find his forever home base.
“I grew up on the Sunshine Coast and spent the next 15 years in Northern Alberta, the Maritimes, The Prairies, Quebec, Ontario, all over the country. When the military then moved me here to the base in Comox, I knew I had found my people and my place. It was pretty instant,” Brimacombe says. “I looked around and realized that I was home.”
In fact, Comox is Brimacombe’s wayward home.
“Wayward represents the wayward wonderer, the lost and found sort of people who are looking for a home. In my military career, I moved every three years or less. I lived in six provinces. I had experienced big-city living, prairie living, northern living, and this is where I wanted to be,” he says.
Celebrate local spirit culture
The pandemic has forced people and businesses to shift and consumer’s purchasing habits have changed as a result. Many people choose to support local and businesses need to meet consumers where they are – at home!
“We want to meet people where they are at and where they are is changing. Before the pandemic, very few people bought booze or shoes online, things that are really personal. But now people are more comfortable trying alcohol online,” Brimacombe says. They now receive six months’ worth of online sales in one month.
They had to close their in-house lounge as a result of COVID-19 safety protocols and converted this space into a shipping and receiving area to fulfill online orders.
Wayward Distillery is excited to work with Tastes Local to bring local vendors together and offer local products to consumers online.
“People have redefined what local means to them. Before, local could be Canadian, local could be BC, local could be Vancouver island, and now local is your community, region and people who you have relationships with,” Brimacombe says.
For consumers looking for local alcohol, Wayward offers certified BC Craft Distillery spirits, fermented and distilled with 100 per cent BC honey. They also have hand sanitizers and up-cycled candles.
One of Brimacombe’s favourite products is Krupnik, a spiced honey liqueur. He enjoys this local spirit while enjoying the bountiful outdoor activities that Vancouver Island has to offer!
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