British Columbia

Review: Shelter Point Double Barreled Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Shelter Point Distillery.

Image courtesy of Shelter Point Distillery.

ABV
50%
Aging
6 yrs; American Oak; Wine Finish
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Shelter Point double barreled some of their whisky in French oak wine casks - here is something unique! This was after about 6 years in American oak.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Finished in blackberry wine casks.

Coconut, vanilla, caramel, pineapple, and rich orchard fruit and sharp baking spice. Big on the palate – spicy, rich, and full of grain and milk chocolate notes even amidst all the fruit sitting overtop. Lots of rich dried fruit, particularly apricot – frankly, it’s remarkable how well the apricot fits in. The finish rides on a wave of vanilla. My favorite Shelter Point to date. It doesn’t have the finish of some of the artisanal cask finishes but it brings a whole lot to the table…

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

Value: Average, based on $80.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2018

  • Bottling Date: 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Finished in blackberry wine casks.

Toffee, broad grain notes, marzipan, and apple juice – yet still with lots of oak, dried fruit, and berries. There is a really great nuttiness shining through, complemented nicely by the oak. It is sweet, easy, and fruity – both fresh fruit and dried fruit, with a bit more emphasis on dried fruit – both stone fruit and raisins and currants. Excellent, and even a touch better than last year!

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

Value: Average, based on $80.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2018

  • Bottling Date: 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Aged for 5.5 years in American oak before being finished for 335 days in quail’s gate pinot noir casks - we’re now not in blackberry cask territory.

This whisky opens with a terrific nose - really nice rich, fruity notes, raisins, red currants, cardamom, sour notes, green apple, baking spices, and great oak. Light shelter point barley characteristics. Lightens up nicely with time. Really opens up with water. The taste is slightly salty, with currants and loads of fruit and tannins – but there are some really nice malty and toffee notes as well. It is very savoury. The finish is winey, thick, and spicy – with some roasted grain notes. Nice body on the finish.

I really like it! It is a departure from before – it has more wine, fruit, and richness. The blackberry releases previously were a bit spicier. I like this version even more.

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $80. But it’s above average if we’re just looking at Canadian single malts.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019

  • Bottling Date: 2019

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Finished in Quail’s Gate foch wine casks.

Raisins, vanilla, hazlenuts, some really nice floral notes (geranium!), clove, orange peel, and that slightly tangy character in shelter point malts. The nose opens nicely with time – it rewards patience, and more complexity slowly seeps out.

The whisky has a nice body on the palate, with orange and a nice mix of dried fruit, sweetness, and spice. A nice savoury character on the palate, too. I like this with a few drops of water. Opens up some of the dense character. The finish has nice oak, vanilla, dried fruit, baking spice, and pearl barley.

Compared to last year’s pinot noir cask, this is spicier, nuttier, and oilier and isn’t quite as well rounded. It tastes a bit harsher. The last three double barrels have been really good – from blackberry, to pinot, to foch. If anyone chances to have all three, it would make for a great side by side.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $80. But it’s above average if we’re just looking at Canadian single malts.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: 2021

  • Bottling Date: 2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

This is my favourite “standard release” of Shelter point that’s been around for a while (this is now the fifth release). They are all a bit varied but all of high quality – I think it’s one of the best single malts in Canada, as far as regular releases go. The single malt is aged for 6 years before being finished for 99 days in blackberry casks.

The nose is rich and spicy: cacao, hibiscus, dried berries, cinnamon, cardamom, prune, dried cherry, berries, apples, wine gums and sharp oak.  The palate continues with the richness – big fruity and oaky character but also some sesame, dried peach, and wet earth. There is a light acidity that really accentuates the flavours. The finish is big – first spicy, then fruity, then oaky. Slightly oily, in a very appealing way. Lots of movement on the finish.

Nice to see another blackberry cask. I did like some of the pinot noir finishes they did, but I really like how the blackberry meshes with Shelter Point’s whisky. Excellent stuff.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High at $85.


Review: Krupnik Spiced Honey Liquer by Jason Hambrey

Image Courtesy of Wayward Distillery.

Image Courtesy of Wayward Distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% BC honey and spices
Distiller Wayward Distillery (Courtenay, BC)

This is another product from Wayward, this time a liquer made from honey spirit, toasted BC honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and citrus peel among other spices. When I asked what other spices were in it, I was told the better question was what spices were not in it.

Originally, this was just a Christmas release but it has become such a fan favourite that it is now available all year round.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Very gingerbread-house on the nose. Nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla - but also quite floral. The spice is just awesome, and it’s sweet - but it’s anything from cloying. A very nice liqueur.

However, I rarely am in the mood for liquers straight - instead, I want a dash of them in my cocktails or elsewhere. Consumed on its own, it is quite Christmas-y with all the baking spice notes. However, this suits all seasons - added to sparkling apple cider in the spring, ginger beer in the summer, hot apple cider or hot chocolate in the fall, or in place of the sugar in an Old Fashioned in the winter (my favourite use of them all).


Review: Drunken Hive Rum by Jason Hambrey

Image Courtesy of Wayward Distillery.

Image Courtesy of Wayward Distillery.

ABV
42.5%
Aging
15+ months; Ex-bourbon casks
Recipe
100% BC honey
Distiller Wayward Distillery (Courtenay, BC)

This is a “rum” made from “honey” which is sourced from a family-run apiary in Northern BC called Golden Clover Apiary. The honey is clover “vacation honey” as it’s sourced from bees that are moved around to pollinate around BC all year but “vacation” in the summer amidst fields of clover.

This is made with water, honey, and a rum yeast and is essentially made in the same way as you would make a rum. It is then aged in ex-bourbon barrels for a number of months.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

This stuff is absolutely fascinating. Honeycomb, dried apricot, peach jam, pecan pie, candied fruits, gummy bears, dried orange peel, pear, coconut, lemon drops, light smoke…it goes on and on. The palate is just as impressive – with honey caramel remaining at the core and light tannins, smoke, and custard adding layer upon layer of flavour. The finish is lightly oaky, sweet, floral, and full of dried stone fruit.

One of my favourite spirits of the year.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.


Review: Unruly Gin (Wayward Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image Courtesy of Wayward Distillery.

Image Courtesy of Wayward Distillery.

ABV
43%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% BC honey and botanicals
Distiller Wayward Distillery (Courtenay, BC)

For most gins, a grain base is used to create the base for the spirit as it is cheap and accessible. Initially, Wayward distillery, thought about taking the traditional approach, or maybe do something a little different with another cheap ingredient - beat sugar or whey - but eventually decided to use honey because of the character it lends to spirits. Honey is very expensive, comparatively, but they use it, in the words of the distillery manager, “because it is delightful”.

Honey, water, and yeast are transformed into a floral spirit which is vapour infused with green cedar tips, citrus peel, lavender, sarsaparilla, juniper berries, and a few other botanicals.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Some fascinating notes here, and certainly unlike most gins out there. It’s very floral – particularly with chamomile (an odd note that puzzled me for a bit), but also daisies, sunflower seeds, and lavender. It also has a sharp, almost smoky note. With that, too, we have cedar, light fir notes, and a touch of pepper. The palate is clean and easy with a light sweetness, more heavy floral notes, and the lightest touch of botanicals.

Exceedingly intriguing. Terrific stuff.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Lohin McKinnon Bordeaux Finish Peated Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
Ex-bourbon and ex-Bordeaux wine casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

This is a heavily peated malt (sourced from Baird's in Scotland), aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished for 14 months in a Bordeaux wine cask.

On a side note, if you ever are able to go to Central City distillery and taste their new make peated spirit - it is quite good - very smoky and nutty. I was always surprised at how little smoke was in the aged malt, given the smokiness of the new make. It has made me wonder whether earlier batches were less smoky - this one, for sure, is smokier than the previous ones I’ve had.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

Peaty, smoky and intriguing. The whisky includes some notes I’ve never seen before – fried green onions! It’s a nice note – spicy, slightly vegetal, and sweet – and it works well with the sharp smoke. There is a lot else here too - spicy (like dried chilli) - but also green bell pepper (is that from the Bordeaux cask?). And we have the usual notes I get with Lohin Mckinnon - sweet potatoes and big barley notes. The palate is smoky and spicy, with white pepper and lots of dried fruit notes. Intriguing savoury notes like roasted celery root, with some lemon peel in there as well.. The smokiest lohin mckinnon that I’ve had (other than the new make).

The wine character is there, but it doesn’t dominate – the subtlety works well.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $65 against the general whisky market. Pretty decent value for a peater.