Hi. I’m Mike Urban and I’m the founder and owner of Urban Distilleries.I have lived in Kelowna, British Columbia for many years now, but originally grew up in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I graduated with a degree in Electronics Engineering at Okanagan University College and went on to start an electronics business designing printed circuit boards.
They say that change comes when least expected. During the winter of 2009, a few friends and I went to France and the United Kingdom for a relaxing get away. During our travels in France, we stumbled onto Camus Cognac Distillery in Cognac, France. We decided to tour this distillery to see what they do. I was quite excited at the prospect of touring a real working Cognac distillery since distilling had been a hobby/passion of mine for many years. I had originally started out making home brew and wine and before long my engineering background led me to make a couple of home made stills. A few years and several modifications later, the alcohols I was producing frankly got to be quite good. During the tour of the Cognac distillery, I could not help thinking to myself that Kelowna could really benefit from a craft distillery making vodka, gin and whisky to compliment the many wineries and handful of breweries already there.
After getting back home to Kelowna, I started looking more into commercial production details, the equipment necessary and ohhh yes, the dreaded business plan. After doing some research into commercial stills, I settled on one manufacturer, Arnold Holstein out of Germany. I was pretty sure that was the equipment I wanted to use, but I wanted to use it before purchasing just to make sure. I asked Arnold Holstein if they had any distilleries near by that used their equipment. To my surprise, there were two in Arizona. I called up each distillery and they agreed to let me come and try them out. Even though I had many years of experience doing personal distilling, I really did not have much knowledge into the business, distribution and marketing aspects of running a distillery.
During my time at each distillery I infused my knowledge with the business aspects of the business. On my return home, I finished up the business plan and approached my bank about my wonderful idea of opening a craft distillery. To my delight and surprise, they agreed and lent me what I was asking for. I immediately got on the phone with Arnold Holstein in Germany to discuss the production requirements I had for the stills. During my time working with the equipment in Arizona, I had identified some modifications that I wanted them to make for my stills. A few months later in October 2010, I secured a lease for the home of Urban Distilleries and January 2011 we were open for business. For the next three years I basically ate, slept and worked at the distillery as my passion for craft distilling blossomed.
I realized that the spirits I was producing were good. To test how good, I decided to enter our vodka, gin, whisky and amber rum into the International SIP awards. The competition was stiff with over 300 entries. I was elated when our vodka won Platinum, our gin won Gold, our rum took Silver and our whisky took Bronze! Urban Distilleries was now recognized on the world stage.
I appreciate all who continue to support our products. Launching Urban Distilleries has really been a dream come true for me. We continue to grow mainly by word of mouth. Ask the bar manager at your favorite bar for the Spirit Bear line of craft distilled spirits from Urban Distilleries. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbours. As we keep growing, we will be introducing new, exciting spirits to the lineup. Be sure to keep in touch and follow us as we grow.
Thank you very much.
Located in Kelowna, BC, and founded in 2009, Urban Distilleries is the oldest and largest craft distillery in British Columbia. We are dedicated to crafting our “Spirit Bear” line of ultra premium, hand made Eaux de Vie (Okanagan Grappa, Calvados, Schnapps, kirsch), Gin, Vodka, naturally infused Vodkas, liqueurs & Single Malt Whisky. Each batch of our spirits is distilled in German made, artisan copper stills using premium Okanagan grains and fruits. All our products are gluten free and 100% natural, with no artificial colors or flavorings. Urban Distilleries is a steward of the land, we practice traditional and sustainable distillation. The energy used to heat the stills, is also used to heat the building, the hot water generated to cool the stills is resused for the next mash and the left over mash after distillation is used by farmers to either grow the next harvest or as feed for live stock.
Our German made copper stills have been crafted to exacting specifications by Arnold Holstein; a highly regarded German still manufacturer. We feature a 600 liter capacity Arnold Holstein pot still equipped with two rectification columns as well as a 300 liter Arnold Holstein pot still.
Drop by our retail store for a tour and tastings of our premium award winning Okanagan spirits! Located in the industrial area near downtown Kelowna, on Bay Avenue between the Train station pub and Knox mountain.
#6 325 Bay Avenue, Kelowna, BC V1Y 7S3