Mainland Whisky: Steve Watts

Steve Watts’ Lens on Mainland Whisky

Surrey Through My Lens” proudly shares authentic photo essays that showcase what it is really like to live in and visit our community from a range of perspectives. Steve Watts is the owner of Mainland Whisky in Surrey. Hand-crafted, made in small batches and never chill-filtered, Surrey’s Mainland Whisky honours traditional moonshine practices, and their unique recipes highlight British Columbia organic corn and barley. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your personal connection with Surrey? ​

“We moved to the Grandview Heights Neighbourhood of South Surrey in 2016. We loved the walkability factor with shops, restaurants and parks so near by. When we first moved I worked part-time at the Washington Avenue Grill on White Rock beach, and my wife, Melanie, worked at the Semiahmoo Arts Council. We have a 10 year old daughter Hattie who currently attends Edgewood Elementary school. We started our business in the Campbell Heights area in South Surrey. It’s amazing to see the explosion of growth in the area, with all of the diverse businesses – many who have become our friends.”

From the Discover Surrey Team:

A visit to Surrey isn’t complete without sampling some of the city’s libations! Surrey is home to a diverse collection of breweries, distilleries and wineries, each with their own unique offerings. Make a day of it and try the tasting rooms in Surrey. 

What does Mainland Whisky look like through your lens? ​

“Mainland Whisky has 2 parts – Distillery and Cocktail Lounge. In our distillery we manufacture whisky, liqueurs, and bottled cocktails. In our cocktail lounge you can sip on a unique and interesting cocktail while having a conversation with a friends – new and old. It has become a community hub of sorts, and we’re very proud to say that it’s a safe space made for everyone to feel welcome.”

What is something that helped make Mainland Whisky a reality?​

Community support. Starting a distillery is expensive. We’re very lucky to have people who not only believe in what we do, but also have invested in our business financially. This allowed us the opportunity to build, and grow.”

From the Discover Surrey Team:

There’s always something happening at Mainland Whisky. Check out their calendar of events for upcoming shindigs like the Name That Tune & Schnitzel Party or Wreath Making Workshops.  

Mainland Whisky is a unique piece of Surrey’s community mosaic. How does your community influence what you do?​

Our community influences all aspects of our business. We sponsor local sports teams – from the Valley Warriors (local Rugby team), to a local cycling team who raises money for Cancer. We donate to different charitable societies – Baja Bound, Sources, Amanda Todd Legacy, to name a few. We host fundraisers for those in our community who need a platform to raise money for their own causes. We’re a regular hotspot for businesses in the area who want a drink and connect after work.

What is something people may not know about Mainland Whisky?​

I grew up in South Texas and that’s where I learned the art of moonshining. Therefore “the South” has a big influence on how we do things – from our southern hospitality to our corn based, American style whiskies. We take these traditional southern practices and blend them with the ingredients and philosophies of the west coast. 

Our tagline reflects this –  “Southern Style, Westcoast Wild” 

From the Discover Surrey Team:

Looking for a unique Made in Surrey gift idea? Pick up Mainland’s Ginsky Cocktail Kit for the libations lover on your list. 

Lastly, what inspires you to share Your Surrey through the signature spirits & cocktails you create?​

The fun and enjoyment people have when trying our products and cocktails! We’re proud to make good spirits, from local organic grain. We enjoy educating people about the process. Ultimately we want to be a part of the conversation when it comes to good quality whisky. Also, to watch people have a great time in our lounge, joining conversation, making new friends, while sipping on cool cocktails makes me happy.

Building Community

Mainland Whisky also gives back to several organizations in the community. However, the organization that is near and dear to their heart is BC Young Farmers who are responsible for future farming initiatives – from dairy, to livestock, to the cultivation of grain.


You have to check out Mainland’s “Kazoo Single Barrel Canadian Whisky” – The launch video is a must watch!

Check out the Other Lenses on Surrey​

Check out the other lenses on Surrey’s six neighbourhoods, major events and other small businesses around the city. Click the link below to learn more about the project and uncover new photo essays from all across Surrey.