Monashee Spirits brings craft distilling revolution to Revy

Local, organic ingredients featured in Revelstoke's first craft distillery

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Josh and Jenn McLafferty at the Monashee Spirits Distillery on Mackenzie Avenue. The new craft distillery opens in mid-March 2017. Photo: Eliisa Tennant

By Imogen Whale

Josh and Jenn McLafferty’s journey to Revelstoke began with two shattered legs.

An underwater welder by trade, Josh had spent his 20s and 30s living and working in over 85 countries.

“Underwater welding was a passion,” he explains. “It was what I had wanted to do since I was a farm boy in Saskatchewan, I lived like a rockstar travelling the world.” Several years ago, a motocross crash in Pemberton derailed his career. After half a dozen surgeries including a recently fused right ankle, Josh knew he would never again pass the medical certifications necessary to pursue underwater welding.

At the tasting bar at Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery. Photo: Eliisa Tennant

“But at least now I’m part bionic man,” he jokes.

The McLaffertys resided in Vancouver for over a decade, and after Josh’s injury and having a child, Josh and Jenn were ready to relocate. Both grew up in small towns (Jenn is from Salmon Arm) and knew they wanted to get back to the small town roots.

“We had spent a lot of time in Revelstoke,” Josh explains. “I even proposed years earlier to Jenn in the Asulkan hut nearby. We love this place year round so it was a no brainer.”

In addition to moving, the two needed to decide what new career to pursue.

The custom distillery. Photo: Eliisa Tennant

And so Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery was born. “When life gives you lemons, distill them and make booze,” Josh kids. “In a way, my accident was a blessing. Being a dad is the best thing ever, and I would have missed so much of that in my old job. Now we have the chance to create something sustainable, something cool and enjoyable, and something that allows us to be present for our kid. Jenn, who has been a nurse for years, is transitioning to master distiller,” he says.

Jenn and Josh found the world of alcohol distilling to be friendly, collaborative, and transparent. “I just walked into a Vancouver distillery, the Sons of Vancouver, and told them I wanted to get into the business,” Josh explains. “They taught me everything, they poured their hearts into our distillery. Now I’m helping people getting into the business.”

Officially opening their doors on March 15, Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery will have vodka, distilled from sustainably farmed grains from Salmon Arm. They will also have their own version of Bailey’s called Big Mountain Creamer, made from Dutchmen dairy products and honey sourced from Revelstokian Ron Glave. Gin, Bourbon, Whiskey and Vulcan Fire (a Fireball-like drink) are all in the pipeline. “The gin we are working on, just getting it perfect,” Josh explains. “And whiskey legally has to be in a barrel for a minimum of three years, so it will come with time.”

Photo: Eliisa Tennant

If you head into Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery for a tour or sample, be sure to admire the incredible copper distillery equipment. “I designed it and though I modified and customized it, I can’t take credit for it. I did weld the gin distillery in the back,” Josh says.

An antique diving helmet, a small momento to days gone by, sits in the window. The piece is functional, Josh wore it on a dive off the west coast. It sits, and now it acts as an intriguing conversation starter for those curious about the journey of the McLaffertys.

Monshee Spirits Craft Distillery is located at 307 Mackenzie Avenue. 250-463-5678

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