British Columbia

Glass bottle shortage 'quite stressful' for Vancouver Island liquor producer

The CEO of one island distillery says supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and a global sand shortage mean he does not have enough bottles for his booze.

Distillery CEO says supply chain issues forced him to plead with public to bring back empties

Dave Brimacombe says he and other liquor producers on Vancouver Island are facing a serious glass shortage, meaning they can't find bottles to package and sell their products. (Dave Brimacombe)

The founder and CEO of a Vancouver Island distillery says he and other island liquor producers are desperately trying to get their hands on glass bottles for their products. 

David Brimacombe, speaking this week to CBC's On The Island, said that due to supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, and a global shortage of sand that is used to make glass, he and some of his industry peers now find themselves stranded with product and not enough containers to put it in.

"There is every indication that these supply chain shortages are going to push well into 2022," said Brimacombe. "It's quite stressful."

He said most of the glass supplied to breweries and distilleries in B.C. is manufactured in Asia and often goes through the United States before arriving in Canada for distribution.

According to Brimacombe, high tariffs on Chinese products that come into the U.S. mean not only is the glass scarcer right now, it's also pricier than it has been in recent years.

Desperate times, desperate measures

Brimacombe's Wayward Distillery produces gin and vodka and is located in the Comox Valley.

He says his business is hard up for bottles not only because of the glass shortage, but because the company pivoted to produce sanitizer at the height of the pandemic and, at that time, staff had to use their supply of glass because plastic was hard to come by.

Now, he said his business needs about 1,000 750 mL bottles to tide them over — although he is not sure until when. 

"We are out," said Brimacombe, adding he ordered a shipment seven months ago and expects to maybe have it on hand in another two.

So he, and others in the industry, are pleading with each other, and local customers for help.


Brimacombe put a call out on social media for customers to return any Wayward Distillery bottles they may have kicking around. 

And Wayward is not the only distillery waylaid because of bottle woes.

Brimacombe said a Nanaimo distillery borrowed 200 of his bottles that are not the 750 mL size he is trying to source, another island distillery stopped using their flagship glass bottle altogether, and breweries on the island are facing the same struggle when it comes to beer bottles and growlers.

"We are just trying to get through this hump here," said Brimacombe.

With files from On The Island

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