To Top

Daily Inspiration: Meet Jan and Marsh Mokhtari

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jan and Marsh Mokhtari.

Hi Jan and Marsh, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Back in 2016 we were on a camping trip in Big Sur, CA. Specifically at a place called McWay Falls. We were having a wonderful time, with our two young daughters, watching passing Gray Whales making their 12,000 annual migration from the warm lagoons of Baja, to the cool waters of the Arctic. And we were having deep conversations, the type of conversation that only happen when you’re on vacation, away from your 9 to 5, and the gravitational pull of making money is out the window for a moment.. The conversation revolved around what we are doing with our lives.We knew that we wanted to create a product that we could be proud of, that actively supported and gave back to Ocean conservation and a legacy business to give to our daughters. The conversation quickly came round to food and drink as we are both very passionate foodies. Then it hit us, could we create a spirit that embodied California? What would it be called? We knew there was an opportunity there. On the way home from that road trip they purchased the URL for Golden State Distillery. Jan leaned into her branding superpower and Marsh leaned into his culinary & science background and they started development.

Gin is simply vodka with flavor. It’s the one spirit that could truly be crafted from botanicals foraged along the migratory path of the gray whale — the terroir of California, or “California in a glass.”

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road. Starting a gin company comes with huge start-up costs, and it was important for us to retain autonomy at the beginning, so we went all in and sold our house to start the business. It was a big risk, considering we hadn’t proven the concept yet. But we believed in our product, our mission, and ourselves.

In some ways, it felt more like a gamble to continue with our corporate jobs and stay on the same safe road, than to take a big leap and start a journey driven by passion and purpose.

We may not have had a house at the time, but we’d had our convictions….and a whole lot of gin. Ha!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Gray Whale Gin: a small batch, California-made, spirit inspired by the migratory path of the Gray Whale. The gin is perfected with six botanicals that are foraged and harvested along the majestic creatures’ 12,000 mile journey from Baja all the way to the Arctic; Gray Whale Gin is truly California in a glass. With every purchase, Gray Whale Gin supports ocean conservation through a partnership with Oceana to help protect and preserve the world’s ocean.

Gray Whale Gin is perfected with these six California botanicals
Limes: Temecula
Juniper: Big Sur
Mint: Santa Cruz
Fir trees: Sonoma
Almonds: Capay Valley
Kombu: Mendocino

We are known for our unique botanicals, like Kombu Seaweed, and Almonds. And we are the only gin that is made using Juniper berries from Big Sur.

One of the compliments we are most proud of is people often tell us, “Your gin is so smooth, and refreshing that you can drink it straight.” It’s gorgeous mixed into cocktails as well.

What sets us apart is our deep and meaningful relationship with Oceana. It goes way beyond financial support, it’s rooted in a belief that we can do better. Better for the oceans and better for people. To that end, through our partnership with Oceana [] we were able to assist in the banning of drift gill fishing nets off the coast of California. California was the last state in America to ban this practice. For a small gin company to have real, meaningful [legislative] impact that actually helps protect and preserve our oceans means the world to us… and of course to the whales themselves.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
We have a belief at Gray Whale Gin that everyone has a superpower, whether it be, marketing, sales, swimming or whatever. We believe all of us have one thing that we are great at, the goal is to find what that is and, ‘do your superpower as often as possible’. On the flip side, we believe that anything that keeps you from doing your superpower should be outsourced. So yes, we have a ton of apps, people and books that have helped up along the way.

A clear mind is so important and when we find ourselves away from the ocean we love to use: Insight Timer- Meditation App founded by our friend. Meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and teachers from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford and more. To help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, and sleep deeply. We try to do it as soon as we wake up in the morning, before the kids get up. -Jan

I love the LightRoom App, to edit, organize, and color images for our social media feeds.-jan

We love to listen to How I Built This: founder stories and how they overcame obstacles. The similarities between what we went through and almost all founders is always very familiar. We love to help other founders on their journey. -Marsh

BOOK: Untamed, by Glennon Doyle. I have read this powerful, hilarious, wake-up call for women many times, I have both the hardback and audible version. After reading, I always leave smiling and stronger. I can’t wait to share it with my daughters when they are old enough. – Jan

We love @apartmentbartender and @thesocialsipper for inventive, approachable, fresh cocktail ideas.


  • $40

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Instagram:


Image Credits
Daniel Gorostieta

Suggest a Story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in local stories