Even before it was legal for him to drink, Evan MacEachern was making booze.
“I started making beer at my house when I was 18-years-old,” MacEachern said. “The funny part is my dad kept ruining the batches as I was creating it. Whether he was doing it intentionally or not I don’t know.”
Since then, MacEachern has launched the Nova Scotia Spirit Co., along with two partners from British Columbia.
The company makes gin, vodka and white rum at their distillery in Trenton, N.S. MacEachern and his partners launched last year, and their products landed in 21 NSLC stores in mid-October. That number has risen to 35 stores.
One of MacEachern’s partners, Alex Rice, says it’s been easy to cut through the province’s “bureaucratic red tape” and enter the market quickly.
“Nova Scotia for both of us looked like a great opportunity,” Rice said.
MacEachern was always interested in the prospect of owning a distillery, so when Rice came to him with the idea for a spirit company in Nova Scotia, MacEachern jumped at the opportunity.
“I was always interested in the production of alcohol,” MacEachern said. “Before getting into the spirit side of things, I was always interested in craft beer and wine. I met these guys and it seemed like the natural progression for the next step.”
MacEachern’s goal is to get his product into 75 NSLC locations within two months. According to NSLC figures, the company has sold almost 3,500 bottles of their product so far in 2016.
“We want to almost double the business compared to where we’re at right now,” MacEachern said.
Their liquor is available at several bars in the Halifax area, including The Stubborn Goat, Temple Bar and Durty Nelly’s.
Matt MacVicar, a bartender at Durty Nelly’s, says the vodka, gin and rum match the more popular brands in quality, but aren’t yet close to catching companies like Smirnoff and Captain Morgan.
“They’re just starting up, but there are people that drink it,” he said. “It’s just starting to make a name for itself.”
Along with expanding to more NSLC locations, MacEachern wants to expand to provide more than just gin, vodka and rum.
MacEachern says the company is developing a dark rum and barrel-aging program at their distillery.
“To remain relevant we need to expand our portfolio and get some fun seasonal stuff going,” he said.
With more and more distilleries starting up in Nova Scotia, MacEachern doesn’t see it as competition.
“I invite the comradery among distillers, and I definitely invite more and more businesses popping up,” he said. “It raises the awareness of the industry.”
MacEachern also sees the company expanding into different provinces in the near future.
“We’ve already got the ball rolling in New Brunswick,” MacEachern said. “The next move is naturally P.E.I. and Newfoundland — kind of keep it in the Maritimes.”