MONCTON – Wine and spirit lovers, rejoice! NB Liquor’s specialty wine and spirit store, called Expérience, has opened with more than 1,000 products on its shelves, including beers and ciders that aren’t available in other stores.
Bill Vance, the Chairman of the World Wine & Food Expo, said he feels “like a kid in a candy store.”
“There are not just great wines here at every price point, but there are great wines from great vintages. And that’s what we’ve missed in the province in the last number of years,” he said. “You can see occasionally, as a collector, wines from a great year, but oftentimes we miss out on the really good years because they get snapped up by other liquor jurisdictions around the world.”
An example is the various 2015 Pinot Noir wines from Burgundy, France, which Wine Enthusiast magazine has called “one of the best vintages of the century.” Vance says he’s happy to see a variety of that line of wines, when usually it’s rare to find them at all. He left the store with more than he expected.
“I just came in to look around today, but I’m leaving with six different really unique white wines. I’ll taste them all and see which one I’ll drink this summer,” he said. “It’s really interesting to have this calibre of selection in New Brunswick for the first time.”
The shop was designed by award-winning architecture firm Turner Fleischer. Take a peek inside:
People like Vance – collectors, wine connoisseurs and sommeliers, are the kind of customers the store is targeting, says NB Liquor communications and public relations manager Mark Barbour.
“The purpose of this store is to be able to offer a different type of products. Customers are evolving … a lot of people have upped their game, so to speak. So with the education they’ve received on their own they are able to kind of be the connoisseurs that they want to be,” he said. “People have been asking for these kinds of products, so we figured, let’s seize upon the opportunity and bring it forward.”
The 4,600-square-foot store is located next to the newly opened Gahan House Restaurant & Brewery, at the ground floor of FiveFive Queen, a mixed-use building that also includes condominiums, apartments and a boutique hotel.
Inside, the open-concept store is divided into different areas. There are a beer and cider section in the back and a ‘distinguished’ section on the left corner for mid-range premium wines. ‘The Collection’ room, which aptly has a ‘Creme de la Creme’ neon sign on the wall, houses the store’s top wines and spirits. Inside this room, there’s a long table and chairs to allow for tasting sessions.
“The Creme de la Creme room is all of our highly advocated, highly sought after, very collectible, somewhat rare [products],” Barbour said.
The most expensive spirit in the store’s inventory is a Tomatin scotch costing $35,000, which will arrive at the store in the near future, staff said.
NB Liquor contributed $375,000 to the project, including internal fixtures, equipment and signage. It has hired seven staff members, including part-timers. The staff members are certified Wine and Spirit Education Trust level 3.
“They have very in-depth product knowledge … so regardless of the level of consumer you are, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. Whether it’s your style, the type of grape, if it’s a particular vintage that you’re after or you’re simply saying, ‘hey I’m throwing this party tonight, I have a five-course meal, what would you recommend?'” Barbour said.