A company is looking to turn Mount Begbie Brewery’s downtown location into a distillery once the beer maker moves into its new location in Johnson Heights.
Gareth Jones, the owner of Jones Distilling, is proposing to produce “ultra-premium” vodka, gin and whiskey inside the facility at First Street West and Garden Avenue.
“Jones Distilling has a strategy based on the relentless pursuit of outstanding products & service using ecologically sound methods to ensure the very best products for our customers,” states the business concept provided to the City of Revelstoke.
Jones Distilling has filed a zoning bylaw text amendment application with the City of Revelstoke to turn the brewery into a distillery once Mount Begbie moves into its new digs. The amendment would allow for craft distillery use in the building.
The application says the distillery would source “the very best ingredients” and trace its supply chain to ensure “integrity in sourcing and manufacture.”
The distillery would include a tasting room and would provide a venue for “gin evenings and distillery tours.” Eventually, a bar would be developed on site and long-term plans include opening a restaurant.
“This is a unique opportunity to create and build a sustainable brand and the first ever distillery located in the vibrant & growing town of Revelstoke,” states the application. “Jones Distilling will take raw ingredients and turn them into a sophisticated high prestige product. This business is starting in an industry which is still embryonic and has strong potential to continue the growth which has been seen in the last decade.”
A report by Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services, recommends council support the bylaw amendment, saying the distillery would add to the diversity and vibrancy of downtown Revelstoke.
“The proposed business would also generate a made in Revelstoke product adding to the promotion of Revelstoke outside of the community,” writes Strachan.
The distillery would produce a maximum of 50,000 litres of alcohol per year, if permitted.
The Review spoke to Jones, but he declined an interview until things are further along in the process.
Council is scheduled to discuss the application on Tuesday, Jan. 26. You can read the staff report below.
Who is Gareth Jones?
Based on reporting by Tracy Hughes of the Salmon Arm Observer
Gareth Jones has already received approval to build his first distillery in Salmon Arm.
According to the Salmon Arm Observer, Jones is an immigrant from the United Kingdom who calls Salmon Arm home. He just received approval to start a distillery in his hometown and is advertising his first bottles of vodka for sale, though he has yet to build the facility.
He told the Observer his father tinkered with the idea of brewing and Jones always considered running a distillery. After stints in the British army and in the food service industry, he immigrated to Canada with his wife and two young children and settled in the Shuswap. He decided to make his dream a reality and enrolled in a master distilling course in Kelowna.
“It’s all about making the best bloody product out there,” he said. “And it’s been amazing the response from people when they hear about it. Everyone’s been very positive. It’s been fantastic, absolutely brilliant.
“As with wines and beers, people are looking for something more than a cookie cutter product. That’s where craft wineries and breweries have gained huge traction. I’m looking to spread that into the spirit market.”
Jones plans to offer pre-sales on his products, which will also satisfy his desire to replicate a tradition in many British distilleries. This is where a relative or friend will purchase a barrel of whiskey to celebrate the birth of a baby and will let the spirit age in the barrel until the child is of legal age, at which point they will drink some on their birthday and on special occasions thereafter.
“I plan to do a barrel for each of my children and hope to be sharing the drink with them when they turn 21,” he said.
The Review has yet to reach Jones to talk more about his Revelstoke plans.