It was a sunny and crisp autumn morning in downtown Halifax when I entered Lot Six on Argyle Street for the GLYNNEVAN Whisky launch. Produced by Authentic Seacoast Company out of Guysborough, Nova Scotia, GLYNNEVAN is another in a long line of products that were thought up and brought to life by serial entrepreneur Glynn Williams.
“About 27 or 28 years ago Mike [Nicholson] and I went on a fly fishing trip in Nova Scotia and ended up in northern Cape Breton and thought: ‘What a place for a distillery!'” Said Williams during his retelling of the extended history of GYLNNEVAN. “We had had a few scotches at that point,” he added, making the crowd laugh.
On this day, a group of about forty people slowly trickled into the bright atrium space in Lot Six, quickly filling it with lively chatter and anticipation. Williams took the stage to briefly outline what he’s proud of accomplishing in the last few years in regards to Authentic Seacoast products, particularly Fortress Rum and its relationship with Parks Canada. Williams also took the time to introduce and thank his team at Authentic Seacoast, before telling the GYLNNEVAN story in greater depth.
“It’s a story about fathers and sons; it’s a story about the great nation that we live in,” said Williams. The whisky is indeed a tribute to Williams’ son, Evan, both in name and in the spirit of the journeys they’ve taken together all over the world. “It’s about sharing that spirit with someone you love,” said Williams. “It’s about creating new traditions.”
The Canadian rye whisky is made from prairie grain in Western Canada; it journeys across the country, then is second-barrelled on its arrival to the Maritimes. The second barreling is said to add depth and complexity. As described by Authentic Seacoast, GLYNNEVAN Whisky’s “well-balanced taste is sweet and creamy offering vanilla, spice, hazelnut, butter, toffee and caramel sensations.”
Whisky in Action
Lot Six mixologists Jeffrey Van Horne and Shane Beehan took the stage to describe the cocktails they’d created for GLYNNEVAN, giving the crowd a full demonstration.
“This is an exciting time,” started Beehan, offering some opening remarks. “There’s no other company in Canada right now with the ambition for growth that Authentic Seacoast has.” He then spoke of the creative process for creating cocktails that would showcase the nuances in the whisky. Beehan prepared a shaken cocktail and Van Horne a stirred cocktail, so that the crowd could understand the flavour differences between both methods.
“When I taste a heavy oaked whisky, the first thing that jumps into my mind is a classic Manhattan,” said Van Horne. “We’re going to add a little twist on this drink, called a Red Hook.” Named after the Red Hook neighbourhood in Manhattan, this variation uses a Maraschino cherry liqueur to sweeten the drink. Van Horne chose to use vermouth and also orange bitters. He called his version The Fish Hook; the drink strongly showcased the rich, oaky flavours of the whisky and didn’t mask the booze.
Beehan’s shaken cocktail, High Tides, was inspired by a classic sour. “During high tides, especially in Nova Scotia, you get to see the enormous power that our ocean has.” Said Beehan, “I think in the craft spirit world, Nova Scotia is at it’s first high tide.” High Tides also used fresh lemon juice and fresh honey, creating a light, citrusy, sour cocktail that didn’t overpower the smoky characteristics of the whisky — instead it balanced them.
IMG_6723 — Click to watch the video of Shane Beehan in action!
Last year I attended the Sea Fever Rum launch by Authentic Seacoast, and in my coverage, talked a little bit about Williams, how he ended up in our province, and his passion for growing the Nova Scotia economy and producing export-worthy products. Revisit that post here.