Trenton distillery introduces local vodka, rum, gin!

November 25, 2015 – 7:45pm
Written by: Francis Campbell // Truro Bureau
Published by: The Chronicle Herald
Original Published Article: Here

NEW GLASGOW — Evan MacEachern was in high spirits as he sat down to share small batches of tall tales about three new liquors he’s produced to tempt Nova Scotians’ taste buds.

“I was always very interested in the production of alcohol,” said MacEachern, spreading his story from a table in the Thistle Bar & Grill in New Glasgow, a pub that serves his rum, vodka and gin as a house product.

“Living in Nova Scotia, I am very interested in local products, and I’m amazed at the local support that everybody throughout Nova Scotia is almost obsessed with,” said MacEachern, 26, raised in New Waterford and schooled at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.

“It’s cult-like, it’s great and I think that trend is increasing.”

Having managed the Stubborn Goat Gastropub in downtown Halifax for nearly two years, MacEachern said he got a feel for what Nova Scotians like. And since early October, the three lower-priced spirits that are distilled in the Nova Scotia Spirit Co., facility in Trenton have garnered some prime space in provincial liquor outlets and several good early reviews from customers.

“Coming from the pub business in Halifax, I understood that everybody wants to support local, everybody wants a quality product, but a lot of times local products come with a very high price tag. I wanted to break the mould and deliver a quality product at a very low price.”

And with the help of silent partners, MacEachern produced his Blue Lobster Vodka and Fisherman’s Helper Rum to sell for $27.49 each in a 750-millilitre size. His Willing to Learn Gin goes for $29.99.

The storytelling side of the Nova Scotia culture played a big part in the product branding.

“In the brainstorming process, we were a little stumped as to how we should brand the products, how we should represent ourselves,” said MacEachern. “One day we came back to the distillery and there was a help-wanted ad posted on the door. It said: Commercial lobster fisherman from Ballantynes Cove, Antigonish County, is looking to hire a fisherman’s helper for the summer. Basic requirements: sober, alert and willing to learn. We didn’t have to look far for the inspiration to name our brands. It speaks very strongly to the Nova Scotia culture of storytelling, drinking, fishing and, of course, the hard work that Nova Scotia has been built on.”

MacEachern, whose resume includes time spent living in Scotland and playing some Cape Breton tunes on the fiddle, has four sales representatives that criss-cross the province, and he and another employee handle the production.

“Everything is created in small batches,” he said. “The biggest batch that we do is about 300 litres. And we produce almost non-stop.”

Pleased with the response to all three spirits, MacEachern said he’s not sure which, if any, will become the Nova Scotia Spirit Co.’s signature product.

“Something is going to become a specialty. But we wanted to test the market with a variety of products, so we chose a vodka, a gin and a rum. It’s too soon to say what our flagship is going to be and what we are going to be known for. Obviously, I think the branding is really fun around all of them. I think people are really enjoying that. When it comes to critique of the product, I think that the gin is world-class. The reviews for the gin have just been mind-blowing, overwhelmingly positive. The other two have been very well received as well.”

Expansion is on the horizon, but MacEachern said it’s difficult to pin down where or when that will happen.

“I think our next step is to create a bigger facility, we would like to create a barrel-aging room and a full-scale tasting room where people can come in, taste the product, have a cocktail and walk away with a bottle, essentially. I think that would help get our name out, and it will allow people to try before they buy. It will be a good reflection on the quality of the experience that we want to deliver.

“They can take the product out on a date before they marry it.”

For now, MacEachern has to lean on liquor store sales while hoping for a more monogamous relationship between customer and product.