Here’s something cool to think about: imagine your grea- great grandparents had been there to chip in seed money for the likes of Johannes “Jacob” Beam, Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, and Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle. If only some had invented the Internet, crowd-funding, and horse-powered iPhones, your family today would be a part of North American whisky history.
Luckily, for every opportunity lost, another one eventually comes around.
No one would have been disappointed to see the North Shore’s Sons of Vancouver distillery continue to focus on their perpetually award-winning Amaretto, or Tiki-tastic Coconut Liqueur and Blue Curaçao.
But determined to push themselves, owners and small-batch distillers James Lester and Richard Kraus have branched out into whisky. And as part of their new direction they’ve launched an already wildly successful crowd-sourcing campaign. The Indiegogo initiative is tied both to the rollout of their first whisky, the awesomely named Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket, as well as future offerings.
First, Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket. The 90-percent rye-grain whiskey—which has already taken home gold at the Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition—clocks in at a potent 56.7 ABV. It’s pretty amazing stuff—think rich honeydew and passionfruit with oak and pine undercurrents, sweet (but not overpoweringly so) and blue-velvet smooth.
Taking just days to meet its initial target of $20,000, the Sons of Vancouver Indiegogo campaign is now in the stretch-goals phase. Perks of the campaign for contributors include discounts on Sons of Vancouver gift cards and T-shirts, Old Fashioned cocktail kits, upcoming Christmas advent calendar. Looking down the road a bit, supporters will also get 35-percent discounts on the cask-strength rye whisky and cask-strenth single malt offers the distillery will be ready to roll out in 2024.
The crowd-sourcing, Lester told the Straight, was partly to help with the logistics of moving into the whisky business. Challenges include the costs associated with barrel-aging a whisky for years before it’s ready to be bottled. In the first three months of this year Sons of Vancouver sealed up 20 barrels to the tune of a thousand bucks a barrel.
But just as important as getting the word out on Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket is highlighting the offerings Sons of Vancouver will be rolling out in the future.
“We went the crowd-funding route, rather than just selling the bottles because we wanted to raise money and awareness for the whisky we are putting away,” Lester says. “We could have just quietly sold the whisky but it would have been a lot harder to sell the Advent Calendar and presales on bottles that are just going into the barrels now.”
The goals of the Indiegogo campaign don’t stop there.
“We love cask strength whisky,” Lester says, “and there is just so little of it in Canada. We wanted to use this as a platform to make it known, this is what we do.”
Watch here as Lester lays things out. And then go here to get onboard.