This is Gordon Glanz, founder and distiller at Odd Society Distillery in Vancouver.
Before becoming a distiller, Gordon worked as a technical writer in the computer industry for about 20 years. Originally from Alberta, he went to Quebec and studied to be a translator at Université Laval and then moved to BC, where he has been living since.
Gordon started to experiment with fermentation and distillation in his very early days. Back when he was living at home, his parents were from Eastern Europe and his mom always had kind of weird ideas and tried different things. At some point, she got it in her head that there was something wrong with Edmonton drinking water and she bought a still to distill the water for her family to drink. Gordon had three brothers, and together they experimented making their own beer and wine, and eventually started to play with the family still. Upon graduating from high school, Gordon went to Germany and lived with a family while working on their vineyard. That family also had a still. One night after a really hard day of work, he came home and saw the master distiller fast asleep in front of the still. He thought that was the most magical moment in the entire world.
With the distilling at home and going to Germany, Gordon really fell in love with the spirits and wine business. Then one day at lunch, he came across a master’s degree in Brewing and Distillation at Harriet Watt University in Edinburgh. He phoned his wife, told her he found out what he wanted to do when he grew up, flew to Scotland and got his master’s degree at 50 years old. Then he did a stage at Springbank Distillery in Campbellton, moved back to BC and started to work opening his own distillery. Gordon founded Odd Society with his wife Miriam Karp back in 2013. While he takes care of the production and distillation, she handles the tasting room as well as the business and marketing side of things.
In terms of space and production, it is pretty amazing how much diversity of products they manage to do in such a small space. They produce a gin, a barrel-aged gin, a salal gin, a vodka, a few different whiskies, an elderflower liqueur, a crème de cassis, a bittersweet vermouth and an amaro. All of which are frankly delicious.
They are a BC craft distillery, which means that fermentation must be done in BC and made with 100% BC agricultural products. When we first tried to meet with Gordon, he was out foraging wild elderflower for their elderflower liqueur. This gives you a pretty good idea of how serious they are with the quality of what they use. Not only are they quality driven, but they are also innovative in terms of production method. Given Gordon’s love for single malts, he came up with a way to make single malt peated whiskies by putting peated malts in the basket of his gin still and running it through just like you would with citrus for gin. The resulting whiskies impart the flavours of a peated malts while respecting the BC craft distillery standards, and he experiments with all sorts of fun malts like maple smoked malts, arbutus wood smoked malts, etc.
In all honesty, I have been working with their products at all the bars that I worked at over the last 5 years in Vancouver and I have always loved experimenting with their spirits and liqueurs in my cocktails. I was so excited to finally them! And I was even more impressed when I left after understanding how they actually work to create such unique, precise and terroir-driven products. Next time you visit Vancouver, go to their tasting room. We guarantee you won’t regret it.