To say Compass Distillers has changed Halifax’s spirits landscape is an understatement. The cylindrical shaped distillery in Halifax’s bustling North End houses a rounded bar — complete with an inventive cocktail list — distillery tours and a place to stay. There is a 2-bedroom Airbnb located above the distillery.
The owners of Compass Distillers (Graham Collins, Josh Judah and David LaGrand) started the distillery as a passion project. It began with a shared belief in the joy of making something local, with world-class quality. The lifelong friends shared a love of quality craft spirits and decided to open a distillery which focused on 100% grain-to-glass spirits. All spirits start off as local Nova Scotian grains, save for the rums, which are made using raw cane sugar and molasses.
How Compass spirits are unique
Compass captures the Nova Scotian experience in a bottle. They harvest local grain and locally-foraged and farmed plants to make their award-winning handcrafted spirits in the heart of Halifax. Compass Distillers is dedicated to the place they live and the products they make — those two things are inseparable for them.
About the owners
The owners’ love of high-quality craft spirits led them to create a business they could build together and share with the world. According to President and Co-owner Graham Collins, “We believe that craft spirits are not imported, blended with generic ingredients or pumped out of a factory. They are made from scratch, with the best locally-sourced ingredients, by people who have a passion for the process and the result. That is Compass Distillers.”
What they are known for
Compass Distillers, under the direction of Head Distiller, Alex Wrathell, is known for their authenticity. They don’t want to take something that’s been distilled somewhere else, bottle it and call it made in Nova Scotia. The ethos of Compass is to truly capture Nova Scotia in a bottle. Therefore, all their products are made 100 per cent locally, grain-to-glass, with ingredients sourced from Nova Scotia. Their grain, botanicals, spices — you name it, are all local. They even get their molasses in the Maritimes, sourcing theirs from Crosby’s in New Brunswick.
In terms of their current production, Compass makes a full line of products — gin, vodka, rum, and even their own in-house bitters. They’ve got aged gin, blue gin and spirits that have been aged in the historic Halifax Citadel National Historic Site in the centre of Halifax.
Their success hasn’t been lost on locals and outsiders alike. Compass received three Best in Canada wins from the most recent World Gin Awards, including awards for their Gin Royal (Contemporary), Gin Wild (Classic) and Fort George Genever (Genever).