Review: Shelter Point Canadian Single Malt Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

~5 yrs; Bourbon Barrel
100% Canadian Malted Barley
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

The first whisky from Shelter Point Distillery, one of the first micro-distillers in Canada, established in 2010, has arrived - not at at the minimum age of three years but at nearly double that age, 5 years. Shelter Point has patiently waited on this single malt until this year, and they are reaping good rewards.

Part of the barley used in this single malt was grown directly on the 330 acre farm (of which 250 acres are barley) surrounding the distillery. Much of the rest has been used to farm a cash crop, raspberries, to support the distillery. Patrick Evans, the owner of the distillery, is a farmer by trade, which has given him a knack for details. From cycling through various yeasts to use during the fermentation (some of which, in his words, produced aromas like "used diapers") - settling at last on a Belgian yeast -  to the grain and casks used - care is not lacking in every production of Shelter Point Single Malt. A number of future vintages will be released, showing the effect of each season on the grain grown, and, consequently, the whisky produced.

This whisky is double distillled, and is the start of a terrific set of releases from Shelter point. They have been working on a number of new and different whiskies, particularly some triple distillled unmalted barley whiskies, much in the style of the Irish.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: Inaugural Run

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

It is surprising that for all of the Canadian single malt whiskies I have tried – Glen Breton, Still Waters, and this – they fall broadly into the same style of a grassy malt. However, this is my favorite distillate of the three, being a bit more grain led and complex. Very creamy-nutty – and lots more - golden delicious apple, granny smith apple, banana, lots of lightly earthy and nutty barley, peaches, apricot, almonds, vanilla, orange candies, and light oak all combine on the nose with light malt loaf and buckwheat. The mixture of the light and medium fruit notes with the heavier barley notes work very well together. The palate surpasses the nose, with terrific mouthfeel, and a creamy and peppery effect with the grain, oak, and fruit all held together well in balance, finishing with creamy barley, spice, and apricot. The finish is lightly drying, with good feel and body, balancing cereal, fruity, and vegetal notes. I'm very impressed with this, one of the best micro-distillery productions I have tasted. If the nose did a bit more work, this would be pushed even higher.

Also, the glass stopper on the bottle is amazing. I’d be interested to continue to look at this as it matures some more, as it would benefit- but as it is, terrific, particularly on the palate.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $70.

Review (2018)

·         Batch: N/A

·         Bottling Code: N/A

·         Bottling Date: 2018

Pineapple, tropical fruits, banana, pear, almond, strawberry, and ripe yellow apple – bright and youthful. There’s also vanilla and a light set of clean oaky notes underneath, alongside a light set of spice note. This is quite a nice SM! This bottling continues to impress me. It sometimes has a bit of a strong yoghurt characteristic, but there is some pretty awesome inherent complexity.

The longer you let this sit, indeed, the longer the bottle is open – the better it gets.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. I think this is a great buy for $66.