Fourth-generation North Carolinian distiller, Julie Shore, and her partner, Arla Johnson, came to the Canadian Maritimes, were hooked on its beauty and friendliness, and stayed. At first the “shore” that they chose was Prince Edward Island, and they made (what else?) vodka from PEI spuds. But then Shore found a new shore, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and upon learning that this was the rum capital of Canada, also changed spirits. To rum.

Halifax Distilling Company was established on Lower Water Street, right along the harbour in downtown Halifax, in mid-2016, and has become the go-to distillery and bar for excellent rums. Known as “Halifax’s own rum” the J.D. Shore label graces five mostly blended (with Caribbean rums) rums:

  • Spiced Rum, an amber base with a spicy kick
  • White Rum, smooth and clear, ideal for cocktails
  • Gold Rum, amber and rich
  • Black Rum, with a dark molasses sensibility
  • Rum Cream (think Bailey’s, rum-style), barrel-aged, infused with cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa and rounded off with cream

The fine rums are available at Nova Scotia Liquor Commission stores, the distillery itself, and a few specialty drinks shops, most notably Liquid Assets at Halifax Stanfield Airport (don’t leave Nova Scotia without J.D. Shore rum!).

Using a small-batch copper still, Julie Shore hand-crafts her line of rums, and they are served in the Halifax Distilling Company’s tasting room; try a flight and taste the difference. The stunning carved wood bar is welcoming, a classic setting for rum-loving tourists (they’re not just rum-runners any more!) and Haligonians whose favourite drink is rum. Here is where rum-based cocktails rule.

The tasting room bar and distillery are open seven days a week, 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and while there is no restaurant on premises, there is a commercial kitchen which can be used by catering companies; events are highly popular here, from business meetings to weddings of up to 150 people.

Several other distilleries in Nova Scotia, such as Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg and Barrelling Tide Distillery in Port Williams, produce rums, but no other producer is dedicated entirely to rum. Halifax Distilling Company offers tours and tastings (care to take a flight, anyone?), live music in the cocktail lounge (we hear that pirates visit from time to time!), a beautiful bar, and a rum shop. Tours are $25 per person and run at set times in the day, or by appointment.

They say that when in Rome… When you go to Halifax, at least try rum. Be local, drink local.

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