Local Barley

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: 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.


Review: Shelter Point Montfort 151 Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Shelter Point Distillery.

Image courtesy of Shelter Point Distillery.

ABV
46%
Aging
French and American Oak; ~5.5 yrs old
Recipe
100% Unmalted Barley
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

The Montfort DL 151 is another single-field barley product, like the Montfort DL 141 Series. The whisky, thus, is made from a single field and one of the rare whiskies which actually explore terroir at a detailed level (generally, terroir is not that applicable to whisky). The field is near both forested land and the ocean. I think this stuff is just terrific.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

Rich toasted wood notes, dried fruit, vibrant plum, pear, baking spice, red pepper jelly, hazelnut, vanilla, coconut grassy notes – the palate brings these all together with some added, sharp nuttiness, and a real woody richness. It develops nicely with time. The finish is woody, with caramel notes, dried stone fruit, light acidity, hibiscus tea, dried apple, and oats. A bit candied, too.

Different than Montfort 141, for sure. This one seems a bit richer, more on the hazelnut side of nuttiness (141 is more on the almond side), and grassier…the 141 has more orchard fruit as opposed to richer, dried fruit in the 151. But, perhaps beyond the point – single field whiskies are among the most exciting things happening in whisky at the moment.

It's a touch longer in the French oak than I would have chosen to finish it, but really, this is a minimal complaint. Yet, the French oak does really complement the whisky.  I really enjoy this stuff.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). From a pure taste perspective, this might be more along the lines of a „highly recommended” but given the interesting „single field” whisky, I can’t help but bump this up a level. This is worth trying.

Value: Very high at $55.


Review: Lohin McKinnon Niagara Wine Barrel Finished Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
ex-bourbon barrels; wine barrel finish
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

Another Lohin Mckinnon wine barrel finish, this time in wine casks from Niagara.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Lots of lychee on the nose, with an interesting earthy characteristic as well – sweet potatoes, jalapeno, raisins, and lots of interesting spice. Bright, juicy fruit too – mulberries, white grapes, grape soda, raspberry. Baking spices round the whole thing out, and it does well as it sits in the glass. The palate brings forth a nice maltiness and zestiness to accompany the bright fruit. Baking spices, red pepper jelly, dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla, honey, and more sweet potato – lots going on here. The finish brings in a bit of oxidized wine, clove, lavender soap, and lots more baking spice. A bit herbal, too.


Lots of complexity here. It still doesn’t quite come together as well as some of their other releases.


Value: Average, at $65.


Review: Lohin McKinnon Cacao Aged Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
ex-bourbon barrels; aged with cacao
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

Now here is something interesting - this whisky was aged with cacao from Vancouver’s Thomas Haas cacao. Now- that is interesting! They already had a “chocolate malt” - which I quite liked - but there was no chocolate in there, just toasted malt! This, now, is closer to chocolate, given that cacao was used in the maturation.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose is rich with light vegetable notes, fruit notes, figs, and old milk chocolate.  Lots of rich oak character, indeed, lots of roasted notes and hot chocolate, and wunderbar, too. A nice woody, licorice edge too. Certainly a different variation on the typical Lohin Mckinnon – and it does a nice trick. The palate brings forth more chocolate, light sweetness, a nice herbal character, earthy characteristics, and a finish full of hot chocolate. Also some green pear, baking spice, cacao nibs, and verjus.


I wasn’t primed by the “cacao aged” (I reviewed this blind) but I still couldn’t get over the hot chocolate notes…

Recommended (82% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value: Average, based on $65.