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Nova Scotians developing thirst for locally crafted wine, spirits and beer

The province is now home to 49 micro-breweries and 15 distilleries.


HALIFAX — Nova Scotians are growing thirstier for locally crafted beer and spirits – with vodka, rum and ciders named in honour of their maritime roots leading the charge.

New year-end figures released by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. show the local industry is growing faster than expected thanks to new businesses and a growing range of products.

It’s all helping to pad the liquor corporation’s bottom line, accounting for just over a third of overall sales at $209.9 million – a trend that has been growing over the past few years according to NSLC spokeswoman Bev Ware.

The province now has 49 micro-breweries and 15 distilleries.

“Nova Scotians want local,” said Ware. “They recognize quality products, they are wanting quality products and they are getting that in these locally made products.”

Sales of Nova Scotia spirits grew by 130.8% to a value of $3.5 million from April 2016 through March of this year, with Blue Lobster Vodka topping the list.

Ready-to-drink products from the province _ largely ciders – rose in sales by 83.7% to $2.9 million, fuelled by the growth of drinks like No Boats on Sunday.

Craft beer sales grew by 34.2% to $10.2 million, while Nova Scotia wines grew by 3.9% to a value of $9.9 million. Nova Scotia commercial beer sales remained stable at $160.9 million.

Ware said the NSLC’s sales growth is down to a combination of factors, including market demand and the availability of product.

“There is the demand there and there’s a growing market to meet that demand, so we do focus on cultivating the growth of these local products because that’s what our customers want,” she said.

The corporation said that while it listed products from only three local breweries four years ago, it now lists products from 18 local breweries. One of every four beer listings on NSLC shelves is a local craft beer.

Ware said the trend is unlikely to change any time soon.

Overall, the corporation reported a net income of $239.2 million on $611.8 million in total sales. Sales were up just over $4 million from 2016.

Ware said despite the increase, the total volume of alcohol sold was down 1%.

“That’s due in large part to the fact that customers are switching to wines and premium products that are sold in lower volumes than beer,” she said.

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