We had the good fortune of connecting with Ken Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ken, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The authenticity of the spirits and the quality and care that goes into making them. We still bring in the grains and molasses and believe in truly handcrafting our spirits. Our spirits are palate driven so I am a true believer in the full experience. From the bouquet, to the the way it hits your palate, to the mouth feel, and the finish. It’s all part of the experience. You have to truly appreciate the nuances of spirits to appreciate making them.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Starting any business is always a challenge. Especially when you are going head to head with multibillion dollar competition. It’s important to know what you are as a company and how you stand out. We have a great reputation for amazing spirits and that brings the most pride. This is a fun, but challenging industry. One thinks booze and it’s easy to think it’s all fun and games. But it really is a lot of work, a lot of long hours and you’re never off the clock. But it’s very rewarding. Like any small company, it’s all about what you put into it and your contribution to its success.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Obviously, one of my favorite things is to bring friends to the Malahat distillery. I’m so proud of the spirits and all of my friends are familiar with them. But I’m also proud of my bar staff. They create cocktails that I could never design myself. I take great pride in our spirts, but to see what they can do with the spirits in cocktails is inspirational. One of the best perks of this industry is that you really get to know the owners and chefs in San Diego. I have my favorite spots and they usually share the same passion for their foods as I do with spirits. I take family and friends to these spots regularly. Outside of food and drink, it’s all about the outdoors. I take my surfer pals to my favorite surf spots and all my friends to my favorite hikes and beaches.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think the brewers deserve a lot of credit. I absolutely love to sip fine spirits and have done so for decades, but much of the start of Malahat also came from a love of beer and was first talked about over a beer. Their creativity and approach to all the new styles and types of beer inspired us to do the same for spirits. Combine that creativity and quest to make the best spirits possible and the rest is history. Also, hats off to the truly discerning spirit lovers and manufacturers that truly appreciate good spirits.