Distillery takes flight

When Mountain View School was opened in 1914, it boasted four classrooms, an office, and two rooms in the basement for domestic science and physics. It was built in anticipation of a rapid increase in enrollment and was a fabulous improvement on some of the classrooms in the early days of Revelstoke. That’s when, for a time, classes were held in the town’s bars.

So there’s more than a little irony in the fact that the heritage school building should now be slated for use as a distillery.

“I’d heard that classes were once held in bars here so it is a bit funny that we’ll be using the school as a distillery. Sort of like we’ve come full circle. But it’s a beautiful building and we feel very privileged to become the custodians of it,” said Jonah (Gareth) Jones while on site on the school grounds.

“For the last 18 months we’ve been working on this building–moving it forward–getting all the by-law changes done with the City. Then, about 12 months ago we submitted the building permit and information for the heritage revitalization side of things and we got our building permit in August.”

Jones’ company, Jones Distilling will produce premium vodkas, gin and whiskey at the new distillery but Jones explained that his true passion lies with the gin and whiskey side of the business.

“I came by this honestly. It’s because of my dad, really. He distilled in England years ago and it’s something I had planned to do a long time before I came to Canada.”

Jones came to Revelstoke a few years ago from his home just outside London after first spending time in the British army and in the food service industry. When he finally made his way to Canada he enrolled in a master distilling course in Kelowna and eventually found his way to Revelstoke.

When he arrived in the “Stoke”, he immediately fell in love with the place.

When the Revelstoke Review caught up with Jonah, he was dashing across what was once the school’s playing field, with a paragliding sail strapped to his back.

“I’m a bit of an outdoor enthusiast and Revelstoke is a great place for me. I got a call from my mate this afternoon and we decided to mix a little bit of playing with the work today,” he said with a chuckle.

But play won’t stand in the way of Jones’ plans for the distillery.

“There are a few hoops to go through but we hope to be done by the beginning of October. Then there’s just inspections and licences and bits and pieces to attend to but the plan is to be open by the end of this year. We can’t wait to bring the product to market.”

More information on the planned distillery can be found at jonesdistilling.com

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