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Downhill

Pemberton Downhill | Cowboys, Indians and Super Dudes

Seb Kemp starts a new mini series taking us to places away from the bright lights of the Whistler Bike Park…

From Dirt Issue 126 – August 2012

Words by Seb Kemp. Photos by Reuben Krabbe.

Distinct Distillery

At the end of a dirt road stands a new corrugated steel shed with nothing to hint at the age–old chemistry that goes on inside its walls. The area the shed stands on is surrounded by towering peaks that are clothed in a cloak of temperate coniferous forest or glowing white snow that pierce the blue sky like the jaws of a giant; an amphitheatre of rock and timber that makes everything in the snooker table flat, narrow valley, feel dwarfish. The valley floor is lush and green, neatly divided by the hedgerows and fenceline of farming. It is the produce of the ground here that is the main ingredient for the most unexpected of brews.

The Pemberton valley is referred to as ‘Spud Valley’ by locals and the potatoes that are grown here are of such renowned quality that Pemberton is a world supplier of high–grade seed potatoes. Jonathon Schramm (you might recognize that name from the credits of Anthill’s productions like Follow Me and Strength In Numbers) and his wife own a small potato farm in the valley. Around 2002 the value of potatoes was falling drastically due to the fashionably carbo starved Atkins diet. Jonathon and his brother realized that the fine potatoes and glacial waters that run from the mountain creeks would provide the perfect ingredients for an ultra premium vodka. So Tyler bundled himself off to Edinburgh to do a Masters thesis in potato vodka distilling at Heriot–Watt University, learnt the craft of distilling from the master distillers of Scotland, and created the original recipe for Schramm Vodka. He returned to Pemberton and with the help of his brothers built the distillery buildings in the winter of 2008 and by early 2009 had carefully hand-distilled the first crop of locally grown organic potatoes to make the first bottles of Schramm Vodka.

To be in British Columbia, deep in the mountains, stood outside an authentic vodka distillery is a little perplexing perhaps, but the Pemberton Distillery is a logical result of the confluence of the ingredients that make Pemberton an interesting place.>>

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