Meet Your Maker

James Whelan
Head Distiller
Edgefield Distillery

Where you been is good and gone, all you take's the getting there - Townes Van Zandt

James Whelan is the Head Distiller at McMenamins Edgefield Distillery. Since his start in 1999, he has worked the majority of our Portland properties. Before he joined our team, he was an Associate Producer for KOIN 6 News. His first position was as a brewer at Edgefield. While an injury led him to a job in the spirits world, he has since fallen in love with craft distilling. 

James began his journey at 14, while having lunch with his mother at the Fulton Pub.James WhelanWatching Lee Medoff brew in the windows below, he decided brewing was the coolest job ever. Once James became a brewer, Medoff would once again be a major influence, as the head distiller at the time who inspired James to expand his knowledge to whiskey making. As a distiller his favorite whiskey is Hogshead, a recipe he helped refine. He is proudest of Herbal Liqueur Number 7, a product that took him a few years to find the perfect balance of flavors.

"There's never a mistake you can make that hasn't been made before" is a lesson James was taught five minutes before he made a mistake that his head brewer had never seen before. James suggests learning everything you can about fermentation before you begin to learn about distilling, and to keep paying attention to valuable lessons from mistakes.  

When he's not distilling, James spends time with his source of motivation, his beautiful family. He enjoys camping and hiking and is an avid musician and photographer.

Did you know we added a second distillery? Visit the Cornelius Pass Distillery, founded in 2011.


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