Steve Watts is to celebrate the opening of his whisky distillery Mainland Whisky this weekend. (Contributed photo)

New whisky distillery to open in South Surrey

Mainland Whisky to open this weekend with festive cocktails

South Surrey’s first whisky distillery is set to open its doors.

Located in the Campbell Business Park, Mainland Whisky is to open its tasting lounge this weekend with samples and festive cocktails made with their American-style corn whisky, cinnamon whisky and Wildrose Whisky Liqueur.

According to a news release from the company, Mainland Whisky distillers honour traditional moonshine practices with their own recipes using organic B.C. corn and barley. The whisky is made in small batches.

“It’s handcrafted whisky, so we’re, I think, the only guys in B.C. kind of doing American-style whisky,” owner Steve Watts said.

Watts said his whisky is akin to bourbon, but “we can’t call it bourbon because we’re in Canada, so we call it corn whisky.”

Watts said that there’s a number of stipulations that need to be met in order to call a whisky bourbon – including that it be made with 51 per cent corn or more – but the most important is that it be made in the U.S.

Watts said he’ll be available to provide whisky education at the event.

The cinnamon whisky contains no added sugar or glycerin, he said, which can be found in mainstream brands like Fireball cinnamon whisky.

“And then we actually do a liqueur as well, Wildrose Whisky Liqueur.”

According to the company’s website, the liqueur is a cross between corn whisky and wild rose petals.

“We locally forage wild roses and then we reduce them down to a syrup. And then we infuse our whisky with it, and it’s a 25 per cent alcohol opposed to 40,” Watts said.

“It’s sweet and has almost chocolatey notes.”

The tasting room is located at the distillery, which Watts said was quite the challenge to build due to the fire safety regulations in the City of Surrey.

“We had to go through a lot to get our permits. Surrey is kind of notorious for their fire safety, so they actually made us build a concrete bunker – a distilling room we call it, but it’s basically a bunker,” Watts said.

Everything from the anti-explosion lights, fixtures, and receptacles were subject to the code, he added.

“So it was a year and a half of waiting and building, basically,” he said. “We were pushing so hard to get open before Christmas and we finally were able to hit that goal – thank goodness.”

The “Christmas at the Mainland” event is to take place Dec. 14-15 from 12-8 p.m. at 107-3425 189 St.

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