The smell of fermentation hits you before you even walk through the doors of Ironworks Distillery. Located on the edge of downtown Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Ironworks has been creating unique Maritime spirits since 2010. The shop is housed in a historic marine blacksmith’s shop, and preserves the character of the building with items and photos from the 19th century shop displayed around the distillery.
The idea for Ironworks started one day in the late 2000’s when founder Pierre Guevremont brought home a magazine article about distilling and told his partner and Ironworks co-founder Lynne MacKay that he was interested in opening a distillery. She, much to her credit, did not say no right away. “I said, let’s just investigate until someone says no. And thus far, no one has said no. So, so far so good.”
It wasn’t until the pair set foot in The Blacksmith’s Shop in 2009, where Thomas Walters once crafted iron works for Lunenberg’s once thriving shipbuilding industry that Ironworks Distillery became reality.
One of their first products and their most popular seller is their dark Bluenose Rum, made with Crosby’s molasses out of Saint John. Guevremont and MacKay’s first batch of Bluenose Rum went into barrels in 2009 and just over a year later (rum has to be aged at least a year in barrels) was available for sale in their newly opened shop by Christmas of 2010.
Their most prized possession in the shop is the distillery’s German-made, wood fired still, which MacKay refers to affectionately as Bergita. And a thing of beauty Bergita certainly is, with her imposing stature and flashy copper plating. It’s a pot still made by the German company Mueller, designed to bring the maximum amount of flavour over from the pot into the distillate. Bergita is used to produce most of Ironworks products, except their vodka which requires a higher alcohol content, and their liqueurs which are produced by infusion.
Ironworks distills in small batches and uses local products as much as possible. And when we say local, we mean really local. They harvest rosehips every fall from their famous fishery neighbours Adams and Knickle for use in their gin. But ask them how exactly they make their gin and mum’s the word. “Gin is like a symphony. You can have a tiny little chamber orchestra of botanicals or you can have the whole bloody TSO. So, you can play like crazy” says MacKay. They also make their vodka using Nova Scotia apples, as opposed to the traditional grain or potato varieties.
Ironworks Distillery carries a wide range of products, including gin, three types of rum, a number of liqueurs and an impressive Pear-eau-de-vie with the pear in the bottle, where a whole pear is grown right inside the bottle and then later filled with pear brandy. They currently sell their products at their Lunenburg store, as well as a number of NSLCs, and can be ordered and shipped from their online website.
For more information or to purchase product, visit their website at ironworksdistillery.com