I’m sitting at the bar inside Monashee Spirits on Mackenzie Avenue, watching as owner and distiller Josh McLafferty pours two samples of the craft distillery’s Big Mountain Creamer for me to try.
“It’s our version of Bailey’s,” Josh tells me, as I try the first version.
It’s delicious. So is the second version, but the smoothness of the first one is more appealing. Turns out I’ve picked correctly, as this is the version the distillery plans to produce.
Josh, along with wife and co-owner Jenn McLafferty, have made a conscious effort to connect with other local businesses, and the Big Mountain Creamer is a perfect example of this. One of only a few spirits the distillery is offering right now, the recipe incorporates Stoke Roasted Coffee, Ron Glave’s honey, and cream from D Dutchman Dairy.
“We’re using every thing local for as much as we possibly can,” said Josh. “We’re down to our last little renditions.”
They’ll also be offering a vodka and are working on a version of cinnamon whiskey they’re calling Vulcan’s Fire.
“There’s been a lot of taste testing. It’s so hard to know but Josh writes everything down,” said Jenn.
Along with creating great spirits to offer, the McLafferty’s have also had to spend a significant amount of time working on the physical location of the distillery.
“We completely gutted the building. The building had to be totally updated. So many things — electrical, plumbing. It was a lot of work,” said Jenn.
The end result is a small space with a few couches, and a bar as you enter. Just past that is where the distillery is located — completely within view of the front. Once the opening date is confirmed, Josh says they’ll start off by offering small tours and tastings.
“We’re not moving into a lounge right away,” said Josh. “We’re just going to do the manufacturing, the sampling, the tours, sell bottles from here. In a few months we’re going to do the lounge and mixed drinks.”
One spirit they’ve decided to hold off on attempting is gin — simply because it’s a difficult one to make well.
“There’s so many variations and so many parts to it, and there’s so many good gins on the market. There’s really good commercial gins and good little craft distillery gins now as well,” said Jenn.
Josh agreed, saying gin is a difficult market to compete against, and the last thing they want is to make an OK gin.
“We’re going to keep waiting. We’re going to keep experimenting until we get something we like,” said Josh. “When we have something awesome, then we’ll release it.”
The number one priority, he said, is making a good product.
While an exact opening date has yet to be determined, the couple says it is likely they’ll hold a soft opening for Monashee Spirits sometime in early April.