Port Williams' Barrelling Tide Distillery becomes ninth distillery in Nova Scotia

Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca
Published on May 23, 2016

Barrelling Tides Distillery owner Russell Murphy shows off his German-made still. The new plant in Port Williams opened May 20.

Wendy Elliott, Kingscountynews.ca

PORT WILLIAMS - On the first day of their so-called ‘soft opening’ 80 bottles of liquor were sold at Barrelling Tide, the county’s new independent craft distillery.

Located in Port Williams, the distillery is the ninth in Nova Scotia and “we had quite a response from the community and travelers,” said Colleen Murphy.

Using quality local ingredients, from Boates apple cider to grains grown in Cambridge, owner/distiller Russell Murphy offers a taste of his handcrafted gin.

He sounds like a sommelier speaking about the initial peppery notes from the juniper berry, followed by citrus tastes.

“It has the bite people are looking for,” Murphy adds.

With a culinary background, Murphy also sounds like he loves what he does. He and wife, Colleen, are building the business together.

Stepping into the production area, the warm copper still demands admiration. It was ordered from Germany before construction began a year ago.

But the process begins, Murphy explains, with grinding batches of grain in the tiny milling room. Then it cooks with sugar and ferments in tanks till resembling porridge.

The distiller describes how the FDA-approved still turns out a crisp liquid in an hour and 45 minutes, which “is a cleaner more consistent product.”

For Murphy, the artistry in the profile of his spirits is in the taste and the time, what he calls the heart and tails of flavour.

Growing up in Grand Pre, he worked for Ralph Stirling on his family farm and then he developed his interest in distilling with short apprenticeships.

Now Murphy’s distillery will be open year round with its tasting room window overlooking the tides of the Cornwallis River.

The Murphy’s are starting with stocks of vodka, gin and a variety of fruit liqueurs. He lists off his sources for an abundance of local berries. Tours of the grain to glass process are available.


Creating a locavore district

The Port Williams area, Murphy notes, is fast becoming “quite a little drawing card.”

He lists off the attractions currently with his distillery open, there’s Planters Ridge Winery, Sea Level Brewing and another brewery soon to open its doors.

“We can offer an awesome experience,” Murphy said, “in terms of the craft beverage industry. We’ve got some great things going for us.”

The Wolfville Magic Winery Bus does not cross over the Cornwallis River, but experience manager David Hovell says there's interest in expansion and he's had some preliminary discussions with businesses on the north side of the river.

Several other vendors in the community are already marketing the Starr’s Point Loop as an agri-tourism attraction. They include: Tap Root Farm, Starr’s Point Steers and the Noodle Guy.


Did you know?

The eight other distilleries in this province are located such diverse corners of Nova Scotia as: Halifax, Antigonish, Stewiacke, Cape Breton, Lunenburg, Grand Pre, River John, and Annapolis Royal.

Tangled Garden in Grand Pre began producing fruit and herb-based liqueurs a number of years ago.