photos: Katie Huisman
James Lester | Owner, Operator, 25
Richard Klaus | Owner, Operator, 24
Sons of Vancouver is a really, really small batch distillery set to open on Vancouver’s North Shore. James Lester and Richard Klaus are the two righteous dudes dedicated to bringing you their craft Vodka, Chili Vodka and No. 82 Amaretto. How they got here is a bit of a story.
Friends for a decade, they have been brewing beer and learning the finer points of alcohol and the community surrounding it for years. Originally meeting in Northern British Columbia, James and Richard worked together in oil and gas. Promised prosperity and a good life, they were let down and quickly grew unhappy. Tired of selling their lives for dollars in an ugly trade, they took their hands-on skills in process control and vowed: to never do anything they didn’t want to ever again. With this new motto, it felt appropriate to do what any old married couple ready to enter their golden years would do, and threw a great big retirement party and headed off to Mexico. It was during the resulting 40 day and 40 night adventure down the west coast and back that the guys began crafting the idea of a business together.
This idea went on hiatus in its infancy, with James becoming a travelling bartender and Richard journeying through Latin America. However, after a healthy break of separate growth and experience, James and Richard met back up and started working with distillers south of the border to learn the market and skills. There the two gents learned how to make Vodka, Gin, Bourbon and Lemoncello. The desire to open a distillery really came organically and was a natural progression of James and Richard’s shared backgrounds in brewing, bartending and process control. James, brewing beer since junior high and Richard, who spent more time brewing IPAs in college than he did attending school; it was always clear that alcohol and the process of making it would somehow become a part of their lives. Often asked, “why not craft beer?” James will always joke that it was because he couldn’t grow a big enough beard. In reality, with a city full of great beer these two guys drew from their personal and professional backgrounds to bring great craft spirits to Vancouver, an emerging market with a great future.
After two years of blood, sweat, and man tears, the Sons of Vancouver Distillery is nearly open, and the two guys behind the curtain are ready to welcome you in with a smile. Featuring rustic repurposed stills, a beautiful tasting room, and killer product, the guys hope to be welcoming you into their new space on the North Shore in early 2015.
They intend to serve as an inspiration to all those with almost impossible dreams, that following a path with integrity and dedication, the impossible can indeed be achieved. They are excited to be a part of the growing market of distilleries in British Columbia.