An Odd Society makes for Unique Spirits in Vancouver

When we met Gordon Glanz and Miriam Karp at a break-the-fast dinner in 2007, they told us they were planning to open a distillery in Vancouver after Gordon got a distilling degree at Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University.

I thought, yeah sure. Show me the whiskey.

And then they did it!

Gordon and Miriam’s new company, Odd Society, is now open for production and tasting in the industrial Hastings district, selling high-end craft spirits and liqueurs. Like vodka.

But they are not doing it alone. The couple is working in partnership with Josh Beach from Ontario, whom they met at whiskey school.

gord miriam

We dropped into Odd Society last Saturday and got a taste of their first batch of East Van Vodka.

The tasting room is gorgeous; clean and warm with a touch of Belle Époque. Behind a wall of glass, the distillery looks like a gallery of brass showing portraits of still life. (pun intended)

Oddly, no potatoes are used in Gord and Josh’s process. The vodka is made from 100% barley using barley mash supplied by local breweries. Distilling the mash makes whiskey – two barrels of which are now aging for the next 3 years.

In the final distillation through the column still, that whiskey becomes vodka. The clarinet-shaped column still contains 15 plates that finish the vodka at 95% alcohol. Clear as spring water.

still lifes

Gord said the vodka takes 10 days to distill and each batch produces about 250 bottles. Playing with different yeasts, they’ve made 3 batches so far.

The tastes we got were the end of the first batch. The vodka is earthy and toasty with a slightly sweet finish. Odd, but good.

Their tanks are from Canada, the used stills come from Germany, and condensation water is recycled through a cooling tower on the roof.

Their next addition will be a mash tun to make rye and corn whiskey. Using that, they hope to make barrel-aged beer to sell in the tasting room.

gord tanks

Their cassis liqueur is quite concentrated and mildly sweet. It blends well with the vodka for a thinner consistency.

eastvan vodka

Ideas for other spirits include coffee and elderflower liqueur, or creme de menthe. “Gordon is dying to do a coffee liqueur,” Karp admitted, indicating that a call to JJ Bean might be in order.

Their plan is to keep sources local, so everything they make depends entirely upon what’s available whether it’s mash from a local brewery, berries from a nearby farm. “It just keeps it economical,” she said.

Odd Society’s current license only allows for tasting, like at a winery, so the most you can sip is a tiny pour.

But they are applying for a “lounge endorsement” license, something new to the province, which would let them serve real drinks. Like a pint of beer.

And what about the name, Odd Society, I asked Miriam. Where did it come from.

“We liked it because Society implies community, a group, and odd because we like things that are unusual. Society – structured. Odd – not so structured.”

Well, that’s odd. No, wait.

Odd Society is located at 1725 Powell St. near Commercial. Hours are Thursday- Sunday 1-7pm.

Mari Kane

Mari is a writer, blogger and WordPress consultant, living in Vancouver, BC, the most wine-soaked town north of the 49th Parallel. She also blogs about WordPress web design at Blogsite Follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.