Mark James Group Opens Yaletown Distillery

The distillery, where vodka and gin is currently made, is located at 1132 Hamilton Street.

The Mark James Group has expanded with the opening of its first vodka and gin distillery in Yaletown earlier this month

The newest venture of the Mark James Group distills spirits in-house—a tradition started with the company’s Yaletown Brewing Company 19 years ago. In addition to gin and vodka, the new distillery also plans to offer whiskey, grappa, house liqueurs and eau de vie in the near future.

“We launched our vodka and our gin on December 5, which is the anniversary of the repeal of the prohibition in the States, and the reception has been fantastic,” says Fraser Boyer, director of operations with the Mark James Group.

The Yaletown Distilling Company is the vision of Iain Hill, an award-winning brewer who has served as the head brewmaster of the Mark James Group for the past 18 years. Hill, who will now serve as the head distiller, partnered with Bavarian Brewing Technology to design the distillery’s equipment for the location in the SOHO building in Yaletown. Due to fire regulations, the distillery will not be in the Distillery Bar itself like the Mark James brewpubs, but is visible through windows.

“We are the first urban distillery bar in North America. Every other distillery is going to be in a remote location or a stand alone where you can just go and try the spirits that are produced there,” says Boyer. “You can try our spirits next to every other spirit that we offer to our guests at the Distillery Bar itself or go to the actual distillery tasting room.”

The Yaletown Distilling Company’s tasting room is open for samplings five days a week and private tours of the space will be available by appointment. Yaletown Craft Vodka and Yaletown B.C. Gin will be available exclusively at the distillery retail store, with plans to expand distribution through the BC Liquor Distribution Board in early 2014.

Next up for the Mark James Group is the opening of an approximately 30,000 square-foot brewery for the Red Truck brand of beer on 1st Avenue, close to Main Street. The brewery will also feature a food and beverage facility, both opening this spring.