The Schacht family, including, from left, Stephen, Jessica and Jeremy, are the brains and muscle behind the Cowichan Valley’s award-winning Ampersand Distillery. (File photo)

The Schacht family, including, from left, Stephen, Jessica and Jeremy, are the brains and muscle behind the Cowichan Valley’s award-winning Ampersand Distillery. (File photo)

Cowichan’s Ampersand Distillery takes Spirit of the Year in national competition

Nocino! a limited-edition bittersweet green walnut liqueur saluted

Cowichan’s Ampersand Distilling Co. was recently recognized among the best at the 2021 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition when their limited-edition Nocino! won the coveted title, Spirit of the Year.

CASC is the only national spirit competition reserved exclusively for artisan distillers.

With an expanded set of categories this year, not only did Ampersand shine in the spirit of the year category, but the family-owned distillery also had a “gold sweep” with all their spirits winning a gold medal in their respective categories.

Nocino! is a limited-edition spirit beloved by fans, especially during the holiday season.

This bittersweet green walnut liqueur is made from green walnuts harvested in the height of summer in the Cowichan Valley and sweetened with local honey, fresh lemon peel, cinnamon and allspice.

For those looking to taste the seasonal, limited-edition, and now best in class, Nocino!, Ampersand is running a lottery for newsletter subscribers for a chance to win this year’s batch, and 50 lucky individuals will have a chance to purchase.

Nocino! can also still be found at select liquor stores and restaurants across B.C.

Ampersand Distilling is also one of three businesses in the Cowichan Valley who are among 40 finalists in Western Living Magazine’s 2021 Foodies of the Year.

The other two are Unsworth Winery and Maple Bay Hop Farm.

The magazine’s Neal McLennan said the 40 finalists in the 15th annual Foodies of the Year made life during the COVID-19 pandemic a little more bearable with their products.

“It’s been a tough year for most everyone in the hospitality industry across Western Canada, but despite the closures, restrictions and seemingly endless hurdles, the foodies of the west still managed to make their mark and do all of us proud,” he said.

“Please join us in raising a glass in honour of our 2021 Foodies of the Year finalists. These are 40 of the taste makers, innovators and damn good cooks that wowed our editorial team. Congratulations to each and every one of you.”

The top 10 FOTY winners will be announced March 10 on

They’ll also be featured with portraits and essays in Western Living’s March, 2021, issue.

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