Raincity’s mountain spirits

After only a year, the Squamish distillery is already earning international recognition

Raincity Distillery’s locally inspired spirits include, from left: Barrel Aged Gin, Last Garden Gin, Iron Buddha Gin, Loving Dusk Raspberry Gin and Black Tusk Smoked Vodka. Alenka Mali photo

At Raincity Distillery, founders Alex Mumm and Johnny Xu are bringing new, award-winning spirits to the mountain community of Squamish. Spirits flavoured with the delicate notes of tea and spring flowers, emboldened by the aromas of smoke and oak, and underpinned by the crystal clear taste of glacial water.

Mumm is the distiller, with Iron Buddha Gin his baby—a first-of-its-kind Chinese oolong-tea-infused gin. Xu is head of sales, with eyes on producing his beloved baijiu.

At Raincity, they make quality craft spirits, mostly gin, from scratch. They also have whisky aging in barrels; the first batch is expected to be ready in two to three years. Unlike many small producers who buy their neutral grain spirit from larger corporations, Raincity makes their own base in house from B.C. winter wheat following a triple distillation and two-week long proofing process. “We choose quality over speed, every step of the way,” Mumm says. “This is noticeable in the flavours that come through that often get lost in a more hurried process.”

This slow and steady approach has paid off. This year, they picked up a barrel of awards at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2023: a trio of silvers for the delicately floral Last Garden Gin, caramelly Barrel Aged Gin and smooth, subtle Iron Buddha Gin (which won bronze in 2022) as well as a bronze for the smouldering Black Tusk Smoked Vodka (which won silver in 2022).

Added to the lineup this June is their first bottled ready-to-drink cocktail in a bottle: the Ginseng Rye Old Fashioned. It’s a twist on the classic cocktail, featuring spicy rye whisky infused with the earthy bitterness of ginseng, an Asian root with healing properties. The drink is sweetened with maple syrup, made complex with their own housemade aromatic bitters and best served on ice with an orange twist.

Come taste all they are producing at their world-class cocktail lounge and tasting room, nestled in the heart of the Coastal Mountains. Or purchase your favourites through the online shop on the Raincity website.

Raincity Distillery

The upside of committing to Dry January

Cutting back on booze can help you lose weight, save money, sleep better, and focus more sharply at work. Istockphoto.com photo.

Call this the month of reckoning. After a festive season of giddy indulgence, many of us are rediscovering the gym, swapping shortbread for lentils, and giving up booze throughout the 31 long, dark days of January.

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Five top cocktail trends for 2017

Van Isle Iced Tea—created by Brad Stanton and Robyn Gray, head bartenders at Prohibition—taps into several of the top cocktail trends of 2017. Viranlly Liemena photo (courtesy of Prohibition).

Well, thank goodness that’s over. This past year was enough to drive a person to drink. Luckily, the city’s best bartenders know just what we’re craving right now and in the year ahead. Here are the top-five cocktail trends they say we’ll be enjoying in 2017. Cheers!

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Gillespie’s Fine Spirits

Friendship, a fun attitude, and a shared love of booze inspired Kelly Woods and John McLellan to start their Squamish-based still. Their spirits are designed to be cocktail friendly.

8-38918 Progress Way, Squamish


• Aphro Chocolate Chili Elixir
• Gastown Shine Wheat Vodka
• Lemoncello
• Sin Gin


Gastown Shine Wheat Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Clean aroma of sweet wheat, hints of vanilla.
FLAVOUR: Very smooth; light  sweetness, slightly nutty.
FEEL: Light-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel.
FINISH: Lingering notes of vanilla bean and white blossom.
BEST ENJOYED: Ideal for a very smooth and clean Martini or Vesper.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Perfect choice if you like a clean and subtle vodka. —Wendy McGuinness, April 2016


FRAGRANCE: Cold lozenges, lemon sorbet.
FLAVOUR: Bittersweet, fragrant lemon, pithy.
FEEL: Thin on the palate.
FINISH: Lasting pithy citrus.
BEST ENJOYED: Serve over ice, after dinner.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The colour is a bit jarring, but this is a cool local digestif. —Shaun Layton, July 2016

Raspberry Gin

FRAGRANCE: Raspberry yoghurt, citrus zest.
FLAVOUR: Gin first, with some fresh raspberry.
FEEL: Dry, clean. A bit boozier than most liqueurs.
FINISH: Mellow, a touch sweet but still balanced.
BEST ENJOYED: In a Clover Club. Too easy? As a Martini with bianco vermouth and a lemon twist.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A good one to try if you like fruitier cocktails and don’t have a huge selection of booze. Well made. —Josh Pape, February 2017

Sin Gin

FRAGRANCE: Green and sharp.
FLAVOUR: Woodsy, pine-tree spice.
FEEL: Pleasantly warm and mouth coating.
FINISH: Slight honey sweetness and a lingering peppery finish.
BEST ENJOYED: In a Last Word cocktail.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A robust, London Dry-style gin. —Robyn Gray, July 2017