A young Nova Scotian entrepreneur has turned a chemical engineering degree into a thriving, family-run liquor business.

Riley Giffen just graduated from Dalhousie University, with a plan to make a future in the oil and gas industry.

The 23-year-old has veered off his original path, thanks to a little classroom daydreaming.

“I had a vision of how awesome it would be to start a beverage company,” says Giffen.

Giffen’s family was already in the bottling business. Over the last ten years, his parents built up their company Panacea Spring Water.

About 300-metres from the family businesses, and their home, is a well that offers pure, clear spring water.

“As it comes to the surface, you get a filtration and mineral concentration that is really low but perfectly balanced, so really good for what we're doing here, so it works out amazing,” says Giffen.

The Giffen family’s connection to the bottling business goes back even further. Simon Giffen was a distiller in Northern Ireland, before moving and setting up shop in Halifax in 1749.

“He was a really successful distiller here in Halifax, so that was definitely a big part of the reason why we said ‘yeah, this is definitely meant to be,” says Giffen.

Now, Giffen is following in his ancestor’s footsteps. He opened Coldstream Clear Distillery 10 months ago and is one of his parent's biggest water customers.

“Right now, our line-up has rum, vodka, and liqueurs,” says Giffen.

The whole family is part of the operation. Giffen’s father is on bottle duty, while his brother and sister are on product control. His mother is helping to check out renovations at the new location for Coldstream Clear Distillery, as they’ve outgrown the family business location. The new spot is set to open in August, Mastodon Ridge, in Stewiacke, N.S.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Marie Adsett