IMG_0750 + GradJennifer Russell is a Retail Product Specialist at the Tantallon NSLC. Jennifer is a big supporter of the local beverage alcohol industry at work, but as we discover, also at home.

How did you get started at the NSLC?

I started at the NSLC, in Mahone Bay, in the early noughties (2003). At the time, the NSLC was changing from a commission to a corporation. With this change, the NSLC was very engaged in educating staff about beer, wine and spirits. They were, and still are, changing the way we approach customers, the product and the local industry.

How has this motivated you?

With the positive changes and focus on education, I have been able to take advantage of opportunities for on-going learning opportunities throughout my career. Recently, I completed the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Level II with distinction. WSET is an internationally recognized training program in the wine and spirits for industry and I’ve just finished the Prud’homme Beer Certification program.

You came to the NSLC when the local industry was just on the cusp. What changes have you seen over the last nearly 15 years?

You’re right. When I started, the local beverage alcohol industry was only beginning to blossom in Nova Scotia. In many ways, we’ve grown up and changed together. I feel lucky to have seen the local movement explode as perceptions change and Nova Scotians continue to discover something new. I’m proud to offer Nova Scotia products on the sales floor and share the stories of our local producers, especially knowing that it showcases the talented folks we have in this province, making the products. Our winemakers, brewers, and distillers are innovative and push the limits of what can be created here. Who would have believed 25 years ago that we would have Chardonnay and Pinot Noir growing in this salty rocky land? We have only just begun to see the growth and where any of these categories are going. Cider wasn’t even on the radar when I began with the NSLC. So many aspects of the economy are influenced: agriculture, tourism and education are getting on board through the Nova Scotia Community College system. Manufacturing will follow along, and ultimately it’s growing small businesses.

How does your love of local spill into your home life?

At the end of the day, I’m a customer and do take my training and learning home. I love serving Nova Scotia wine and other local products. Salmon is a house favourite, especially when served with Gaspereau Riesling. We also have potluck game nights with friends and I often make pulled pork or Moroccan meatballs which we serve with local cider. On other nights I invite the girls over to try new wines. Some pick a wine for the label, while others pick nostalgically. Avondale Sky Bliss has been a hit. For me personally, it’s all about finding the perfect pairing for what’s being served. One of the most versatile is Planters Ridge Tidal Bay. It is one of my ‘go to’ favourite wines. While we are enjoying wine, the guys are often enjoying beer and cider. In our house, Bulwark cider, the latest from Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewery and Nine Locks (we love their ESB) are usually in our fridge. The idea of creating beers on a seasonal basis and always have new tastes for the season alongside favourites is probably the best concept for craft beers lovers.

Do you have any favourite local spirits?

Currently, I am enjoying the Willing to Learn Gin but I also love a Maple Whisky Old Fashioned cocktail. When Dave Pieroway — now the Customer Experience Manager at The Port store — was here, he recommended making the cocktail by combining Glynnevan Double Barrelled Rye, with Acadian Maple Syrup and fresh lime juice. It’s definitely a delicious way to enjoy local!

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