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Steinhart Distillery

Written by the Symplicity team

Maritime Resilience is a series of stories on how local organizations are adapting to COVID-19.

Small distillery, big impact
Steinhart Distillery adapts to COVID-19 with care and creativity

Steinhart Distillery in Arisaig, Nova Scotia distills some of the finest gins and vodkas in the province and around the world. Since opening in 2014, Steinhart Distillery has been at the top of its game, winning prizes and best in show awards on an international scale. The distillery is well known for using local wheat and spring water in the distilling process.

With the pandemic lockdown, Steinhart Distillery’s sales dropped by 80 percent. Exports and sales in duty free stores declined drastically due to no travel or tourism. Owner Thomas Steinhart adapted quickly to produce hand sanitizer just as Canadians needed it most.

“We wanted our hand sanitizer to be extra effective and good for the skin. It had to reflect the same exceptional quality and attention to detail as we put into our gins and vodkas. I called a few of my dermatologist friends and they recommended adding oils to keep the hand sanitizer from drying out the skin. Most regular hand sanitizers just have alcohol and water and even with aloe vera it’s not as effective as oils would be.”

Steinhart tried coconut and olive oil and found the right combination within a week. After modifying some of the machinery, Steinhart became the first distillery in Nova Scotia to start producing hand sanitizer. The company made headlines and the phones rang non-stop with orders.

From award-winning gins and vodkas to exceptional quality hand sanitizers, Steinhart got creative and supplied a demand when it was needed most. (New packaging coming soon!)
“The sanitizer was a hit. It more than made up for the lower alcohol sales. The problem was supplying the demand. We couldn’t distill the alcohol fast enough to make the amount of sanitizer being ordered. Everybody wanted it.”
Steinhart found a way to meet the demand and has incorporated hand sanitizer into the regular line of products. Big distributors like Loblaw and smaller local businesses, drug stores, hospitals and doctor’s offices are all carrying the product.

Steinhart Distillery has reopened and is offering a full experience for visitors during the summer and fall months. There is an on-site outdoor cafe called the Schnitzel Shack with lots of space for physical distancing and live music every Saturday. There are chalets for rent and boat trips for visitors.

The distillery itself has been set up to accommodate a limited number of customers. There are currently no tastings or tours, but customers can order drinks and take them outside to accompany their meal or purchase cans and bottles to go. Business has been steady so far this summer.

“One of the hardest things about reopening is that there are practically no tourists. The local area is mostly cottages and a lot of the cottagers are from out of province and not able to visit.”

Steinhart has been tracking the virus and believes Nova Scotia will see a second wave. He is distilling more hand sanitizer with a more efficient process so he’ll be ready to meet the demand when it happens.

“We’re adapting as we go and making the best of the realities we’re facing. For now we’re enjoying the summer months and focusing on what we do best, distilling the best gins and vodkas and producing the highest quality hand sanitizer around.”

Steinhart Distillery is selling local spirits and hand sanitizers and offering cottage stays and yummy eats from the Schnitzel Shack.

Stop by for a bite or visit their social media or website for more info!

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