Celebrating Nova Scotia

Celebrating Nova Scotia

< Back to Articles | Topics: Awards Spotlight | Contributors: Sara Ericsson | Published: July 2, 2019

An honest approach is paying off for Compass Distillers.

Company President Graham Collins says the honest approach is a fruitful one for the company which has already won 37 medals — 36 are international — to date in the less-than two years they’ve been open.

The business is young but has already established itself as a big player in Nova Scotia’s distilling scene. The north end business is fresh off their gold medal win for New Business at the 2019 Halifax Business Awards in January and is launching a visitor experience collaboration with the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

It sounds like a lot of work simply because it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also a good time, according to Collins. After all, sampling the product is an encouraged and essential part of the process.

“This isn’t just a job — it is fun. It’s got to be, otherwise what’s the point in doing it?” he says.

Serendipity and hard work

Winning gold left Collins and head distiller Ezra Edelstein in a sense of shock.

With their doors having opened less than two years ago in late 2017, their success has been early but intentional. Edelstein owes it mostly to producing spirits 100 per cent made from scratch —
something he says a minority of Nova Scotian distilleries do because it’s harder, and more expensive.

Collins says this is how they ensure they stay honest with their customers — by making everything themselves. Their recipes are also what give their products that distinct flare because they use an entirely different set of ingredients to bring their spirits to life.

Collins says it was this crafty approach he found in Edelstein that made him sure he was what they needed in a head distiller. It was a happy coincidence that brought the two together, but it’s no accident that they’re doing well now.

Edelstein’s unique combination of a chemistry degree, well-tuned palate and obsession with distilling mean a show-stopping force.

“It’s the ability to make those subtle little changes that takes something from an eight to a 10, and it’s Ezra that really sets our spirits apart from the rest,” says Collins.

Celebrating this province

The company is currently aging spirits inside the walls of the Halifax Citadel where around 35 barrels are stacked with various aging spirits, some of which will be part of tastings and a visitor experience at both the citadel and distillery.

“It’s been a long, long haul — it will have been about two years from start to finish, so we’re excited for that to launch,” says Edelstein.

The distillery always serves new cocktails and sells new products, but what remains steady is their use of quality Nova Scotian ingredients and top notch products. A Nova Scotian grain base is combined with local corn, rye wheat and barley for most spirits, but the most Nova Scotian spirit of all is the Spring GiNS, or “gathered in Nova Scotia,” for which all ingredients are gathered within the province.

“We don’t want to take something that’s been distilled in another province and bottle it, and call it Nova Scotian — we believe in this province and want to capture it,” says Collins.

Graham and Edelstein also believe in their company, which is a recipe of hard work and good fun for them. Graham works at the distillery alongside his main day job, and says he and his partners started it as their passion project. And Edelstein says the distillery acts as his creative outlet, where he can have fun with trying new ingredient combinations and innovative recipes to see what new combinations reveal winning results.

Because that is of course what they aim for in their approach to distilling, but Graham and Edelstein concur winning the New Business award won’t change their process, but rather reaffirms the one they’ve got is the way to go.

“If you’re already making the best spirits, there’s only so much you can change,” says Graham with a laugh.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Awards Spotlight

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