Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Nova Scotia’s Fundy Gin Supports the Whale Sanctuary Project

These days, brands are giving back more than ever. It’s an uplifting movement that puts a real and caring face on companies, whether they’re drinks businesses, clothiers, or equipment manufacturers.

Up in Nova Scotia, Still Fired Distilleries is shaking up the spirits scene with its Fundy Gin. The release is made with a host of local botanicals and is the work of underwater-welders-turned-drinks-entrepreneurs. A portion of the proceeds from the gin supports the Whale Sanctuary Project, a stretch of water along the Nova Scotian coast which provides a natural home to captive whales and dolphins.

Related Videos
A Fundy Gin bottle on a rock against the sky.

You heard right, underwater welders. Still Fired was co-founded by two of them, Andrew Cameron and Owen Ritchie. The two had a career in the decidedly niche commercial diving business, taking on engaging yet dangerous projects in the icy waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Turns out, some of those highly specialized skills paved the way for the distillery.

“I never thought that I would be able to find a different venture that could keep me on my toes as much as commercial diving, but I was very wrong,” says Cameron. “Transitioning into the spirits industry was exhilarating, terrifying, and overwhelming at times but also significantly warmer than a diving career in the Atlantic Ocean.”

A wine glass with ice and dulse near a bowl of dulse and a Fundy Gin bottle.

Cameron and Ritchie used their welding prowess to build the first “legal” stills in Atlantic Canada. It was a savvy move that significantly lowered start-up costs, as the crucial equipment can be prohibitively expensive. It was the foundation for starting the brand, which the duo officially did in 2015.

Gin was always going to be a focus, as Cameron and Co. had a real appreciation for the stuff. “Long before we established the distillery, we used to get mocked (only slightly) for choosing to drink gin in an industry full of whiskey and rum drinkers,” Cameron says. The gin renaissance had not yet begun, at least not in North America. “We knew we wanted to create a unique, local gin and we wanted to set it apart from all others.”

How do you achieve such a thing? You hone in on terroir. “The easy answer for us was Dulse,” Cameron continues. “A delicious edible red kelp that offers a plethora of complementary flavor that grows in our big backyard known as The Bay of Fundy. Dulse is a maritime staple, and at the time, we were one of three distilleries globally using seaweed in our gin.”

Unique? Check. Showing a real sense of place? Check. Fundy Gin was not only born but offered an authentic taste of the coastal province. But it did not come easy. “A good gin is a fascinating and frustrating labor of love that requires an abundance of time, energy, and finesse,” Cameron says. “To create a quality gin, you have to find a perfect blend of botanicals, and measure them to a specific quantity so they all complement each other, without having one overpower another.”

Still Fired opted to go with a trilogy of ingredients that grow right nearby in juniper, angelica root, and dulse. The seaweed in particular is hand-harvested and dried, offering a hint of smoke and brininess on the palate. The resulting gin is great neat, not always the case for that particular spirit. Cameron likes it that way too, hit with some citrus or in a Dry Martini format.

The move to give back is a combination of acknowledging consumer awareness and the community Cameron and his team reside in. “The ‘buy local’ movement has completely changed the way consumers are shopping, and businesses are conducting themselves accordingly,” he says. “Customers are educating themselves more on what their definition of local means and they want to feel like their purchases are helping those around them. This was an essential component of our business plan, as we live in the small town of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, a place rich with history, culture, and community, where giving back is the way of life.”

Thus far, Still Fired has raised $10,000 for the Whale Sanctuary Project. Cameron says the ultimate goal is to raise ten times that amount within the next five to seven years. The partnership came about after the project announced that it would establish its headquarters in Nova Scotia. The two sides met and have been supporting each other since. Nova Scotia proudly promotes itself as Canada’s ocean playground and we all love and respect our oceans,” says Cameron.

The plan is to keep up the marine support going forward. And there’s more in store for the brand, including a bartender competition that will be held in New York. The grand prize, Cameron says, is a trip for two to their stomping grounds. “We plan to show the winners everything this ocean has to offer and we believe that these are the perfect first steps to creating awareness,” he says.

Editors' Recommendations

Americans to Buy More Mezcal and Tequila Than Whiskey In 2022
Mezcal from the Sierra Norte de Puebla served with cantaloupe and grasshoppers

For the first time, Americans are anticipated to spend more money on mezcal and tequila than they will on U.S.-made whiskeys or rum in 2022, according to a IWSR Drinks Market Analysis estimates. The British data and analytics firm estimates $13.3 billion in combined agave spirit sales versus $12.5 billion for vodka and $12.3 billion for whiskey. By 2023, IWSR estimates the agave category also will have supplanted vodka, making the potent distillation the U.S.’s most-purchased spirit.

What’s driving this proliferation? Similar to whiskey in the recent past, a number of drivers are escalating agave spirit popularity, including originality, product diversity, and consumer involvement.

Read more
Buffalo Trace is Supporting 5 Charities and Giving Away Bottles
The 1982 vintage bourbon from Buffalo Trace up for auction.

One of the nation's foremost bourbon producers is feeling charitable in 2022. Buffalo Trace Distillery, the decorated spirits-maker out of Kentucky, has pledged to donate 2,200 bottles of their work to charity this year. The most notable five bottles went to auction this March, an extremely rare collection of aged bourbon four decades old.

You've probably heard the name Buffalo Trace, whether you like whiskey or not. The label has grown into an iconic player in the American spirits landscape and is now made up of many lauded brands, from the eponymous Buffalo Trace to Eagle Rare, Van Winkle, and W.L. Weller. Some of the best whiskies in the country are turned out by this longstanding giant.

Read more
This Guatemalan Rum is Produced by Master Blender Lorena Vásquez
Zacapa rum's master blender, Lorena Vásquez holding a rum bottle.

Rum, the often brown liquor that tastes of toasted sugar, is wrapped in a bitter history. Rum was a central Caribbean product from the 16th to 19th centuries when the New World slave trade brought Africans to West Indian colonies for molasses, which, in turn, was shipped to New England to produce the liquor, and then exchanged back in Africa for more slaves. Zacapa Rum is taking ownership of that story in present times, empowering the spirit and its producers.

Crafted in Southern Guatemala from sugar cane grown in Southern Guatemala’s mineral-rich volcanic soil, Zacapa No. 23 Rum uses the first press of virgin sugar cane to craft its product, instead of the molasses by-product of sugar manufacture. From the liquid to the bottle, Zacapa’s rums are the result of female, Guatemalan craft artisans -- a marked digression from a male-dominated industry.

Read more