When you exit Cape Breton Island and start driving back towards Halifax, most travelers don’t think about taking Highway 344 and heading down the East shore. This is somewhat unfortunate, as there are a number of beautiful towns with waterways running through them and it’s an incredibly scenic drive. It also includes the future site of a commercial spaceport, which means the number of cars taking that exit might be increasing soon!
The increased traffic may be a welcome development for the Authentic Seacoast Distillery & Brewery in Guysborough, a newly built facility producing beer, rum and whisky. The Distillery and Brewery are one part of The Authentic Seacoast Company, which also owns a bakery, golf course, pubs, soaps, coffee roastery and artesian bottled water. We had a chance to try a few of the non-whisky products: Rare Bird craft beer – currently making five year-round beers from a stout to an IPA plus three seasonal, we enjoyed the IPA and Red ale thoroughly!
Sea Fever Rum – this is a blended rum, combining Caribbean and Canadian spirit and barrel-aged in the Guysborough rack-houses.
Fortress Rum – this is Caribbean sourced rum barrel-aged in the King’s Storehouse at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site on Cape Breton
The owner Glynn Williams always wanted to make whisky and invested $10M building the distillery to fulfill that dream. He bought Vendome stills from Kentucky and has a state of the art fermenting room and bottling lines. The tasting room is decorated with local art and has a fully stocked bar featuring local products. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures during the tour outside of the tasting room, so I’ve included some stock photos provided by the company.
Because Canadian law stipulates that whisky must be aged at least three years, the whisky in the initial releases from Authentic Seacoast were sourced from ‘the West’ (which could really be anywhere in Canada from the perspective of someone sitting in Guysborough!) and then underwent further maturation for about a year in their warehouses. The whisky is branded Glynnevan, which is an amalgam of two names: the founder Glynn, and his son Evan. There are currently three expressions of Glynnevan, reviewed below.
Glynnevan Double Barreled Canadian Rye – 43% ABV
This is west-born rye aged in Authentic Seacoast’s warehouses for a secondary maturation. We were not told what the second barrel type is.
- Nose: sharp maple, rye spice, nutty, caramel, oranges, honey
- Palate: honey, tobacco, maple, quite hot, woody, some ethanol. fairly standard Cdn whisky notes
- Finish: short, sweet, maple, sharp, dry.
- Score: 72
Glynnevan Cabot Triple Barreled Canadian Rye – 45% ABV
This is essentially the Double Barreled whisky finished in Authentic Seacoast’s Fortress Rum Casks and bottled at a higher ABV.
- Nose: less sharp than the Double, but similar nose. maple, rye spice, brown sugar, caramel
- Palate: sweet, light fruit, maple, brown sugar, caramel. The rum influence is faint but present in the sweeter notes.
- Finish: short, sharp and sweet
- Score: 73
A hair better than the Double Barreled, I believe this would benefit from a longer finishing period to make it more distinct from the entry level bottle.
Glynnevan 12yr Straight 100% Canadian Rye
A 100% Canadian Rye, 12 years old, matured for a time out West and then a second barrelling in Guysborough. No information given on the types of casks used for either maturation period.
- Nose: rye spice, white pepper, salt, oak, vanilla, woody
- Palate: spicy, nutmeg, pepper, woodspice. lots of typical rye notes. very slight maple. slightly bitter, oaky, slight dill note
- Finish: medium length, spicy, oak, bitter
- Score: 80
I have a guess as to the provenance of the rye, but nothing was confirmed to us. It’s a quality rye and I hope it makes its way to the LCBO!
I look forward to trying their whiskies once they’ve been distilled and fully aged in Guysborough. The maritime character will hopefully come through more, and with the variety of spirits and beers Authentic Seacoast makes, they would have ample opportunity to experiment with some interesting finishes!