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'100 cars a-day off the highway for 100 days' Nova Scotia Spirit Co. gets set for a big summer

Nova Scotia Spirit Co. president and founder Alex Rice shows where the blue lobsters get canned.
Nova Scotia Spirit Co. president and founder Alex Rice shows where the Blue Lobster beers get canned. - Brendan Ahern

In 2015 Alex Rice arrived at his newly purchased building just outside of Trenton “and there was a job ad on the front door.”

In 2017 Rice’s company would be ranked 13th on the Startup 50 list of Canada’s fastest-growing new companies.

But at that moment Rice was just staring at this piece of paper left there by a lobster fishermen. “I was like, ‘what’s all this about?’ and one of the neighbors told us that there was a man from Ballantynes Cove looking for someone to work for him.”

“Seeking fisherman’s helper. Must be sober, alert and willing to learn,” said Rice, reciting the job ad by heart.

It was an all-around auspicious week in Nova Scotia. Two extremely rare blue lobsters had been caught within 5 nautical miles of each other at Alder Point, Cape Breton and Low Point on the mainland.

“That was basically it,” said Rice. “It was decided. I called one of my friends and said, ‘we’re going to do Blue Lobster Vodka, Willing to Learn Gin, and Fisherman’s Helper White Rum.”

That job ad can now be read on the back of every bottle of vodka, rum and gin being produced by Nova Scotia Sprit Co. Two weeks ago, Nova Scotia Spirit Co. had sent a truckload of vodka soda lemon lime to Ontario.

“We’re excited to be on the shelves over there,” said Rice.

He was standing in the company’s new digs at 230 Foord Street where over 300,000 silver cans bearing the blue lobster were stacked high and awaiting delivery.

250,000 blue lobsters.
250,000 Blue Lobsters.

This summer Rice says that they will be opening its doors to tourists, foodies and, craft beer lovers with the roll-out of the Painted Boat Beer Company.

“We’ve got a great team of almost 30 people who are passionate about helping us grow,” said Rice. “They’ve been instrumental in our roll-out across Nova Scotia, and now Ontario, P.E.I and New Brunswick.”

Work crews inside the old Scotsburn distribution centre were busy spreading cement onto the floor of what will soon be the facility’s washrooms. The warehouse interior already bears the touches of a tidy, industrial loft design where customers will be able to eat, drink, and most importantly to Rice, explore the rest of Foord Street.

“The hope is that people will want to walk around,” said Rice. “We see this as a tremendous opportunity for secondary businesses to flourish. Our goal is to bring 100 cars a day off the highway for 100 days in the tourist season.”

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