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Yes, it does seem like there’s a new microbrewery on every corner now, but it’s not just craft beer that’s having an explosion in popularity! The country’s craft distilleries are producing flavourful, creative, and delicious spirits, and nowhere more so than in Nova Scotia. And to celebrate this, Nova Scotia’s best distilleries will descend on Lunenburg for Spirited Away, a festival of the province’s craft spirits, from October 14 to 16.
Of course, there will be tastings and events galore, including the evening gala at the Lunenburg Opera House, and the Sip and Dash cocktail crawl, but the highlight will for sure be the hands-on workshops.
Distillation may be a science, but making gin is art. Lynne MacKay, a founder of Ironworks Distillery and the gin-making workshop leader, waxes poetical about gin, one of the world’s most “complexly personal” spirits. Gin can include anywhere from four to 40 botanicals, and you might be partial to more coriander and anise, or perhaps notes of rhubarb or fennel. In the gin-making workshop, Lynne will first guide you through tasting of some of the best craft gins from across the country, to determine your flavour profiles preference. Then, you will get the chance to choose and mix from eight to 12 distillations and assemble a gin that best suits your tastes… and take a bottle of your gin home!
I’m particularly excited about the Bitter and Shaken workshop, run by Jenner Cormier, Canada’s World Class Bartender of the Year. Jenner (Lynne calls him “a wizard for taste buds”) will explain the creation of bitters he’s made specifically for the workshop, do a guided tasting, and then will teach you how to use the bitters in top-notch cocktails. You’ll leave the workshop not only with a new flair for bitters and bartending but with your own bar kit.
In between libations, explore the lovely, historical Lunenburg, a tiny harbour town with classic pastel clapboard houses, and grab a lobster roll or fresh caught fish on one of the patios along the waterfront. Oh, and, a huge upside to hosting the festival in a small town? It’s fully walkable, so no need for a designated driver.
What: A celebration of Nova Scotia’s finest craft distilleries.
When: October 14 – 16, 2016
Where: The lovely historical town of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, just over an hour’s drive from Halifax.
How much: The $150 Festival Pass includes admission to all the events and workshops. If you act fast, the “Early Bird Special” can be had for just $99 until September 30. Passes can be purchased here.