Malted Barley

Review: Sons of Vancouver "Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket" Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Sons of Vancouver Whisky 1.jpg
ABV
56.7%
Aging
3-5 yrs; ex-peated malt casks
Recipe
90% BC rye, 5% BC wheat, 5% BC malted barley
Distiller Sons of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC)

This whisky was made from a 5 year old rye whisky and three year old wheat and malt whiskies, all matured in an ex-Westland peated malt barrel. The distillery uses a rum yeast to ferment the rye, since the characteristics of the yeast play well off the grassiness in the rye .

The grains are all from northern BC. There are more whisky releases on the way - probably one release this year and five the next - some of them will be pretty unique (in a good way - some exciting ideas there).


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Release #1

  • Bottling Date: 2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

The nose is quite spicy, in a similar way, in fact, to some of the classic spicy/dusty Canadian whiskies which are quite rye-influenced. It surprised me at first – it’s a note/profile that I don’t find often (if ever) with small producers. But, beyond that – what can I say- “cigarettes on a leather jacket” is appropriate! It’s lightly smoky and ashy, with leather, dried apricot, apple juice a light nuttiness, clove, orange peel, coconut, and dry earth.

The whisky comes to life on the palate – starting with smoke (odd, since whiskies often end in smoke), mixed dried fruit, before jumping into some distinct “Westland” notes with that vibrant fruitiness and jasmine that is in their malt. The finish closes with a good dose of “dustiness”, baking spice, clove, and orange peel.

I quite like the spiciness, and the cask influence is terrific. One of the better Vancouver whiskies I’ve had.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). At the upper end of this category. Quite good.

Value: N/A. It is sold out and used variable pricing as part of a crowdfunded campaign


Review: Shelter Point Ripple Rock Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Shelter Point Ripple Rock 1.jpg
ABV
47%
Aging
8 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Shelter Point released a single cask of whisky last year which was finished in virgin oak casks - a whisky release which I very much enjoyed. The whisky was matured over 6 years in American oak before being finished for 18 months in alligator char casks - it was named “Ripple Rock” after one of the largest non-nuclear planned explosions in the world which occurred underwater off the coast of Vancouver Island, where Shelter Point Distillery is located. It was named such as it was intended to be one of the biggest whiskies Shelter Point could produce in terms of flavour.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Batch 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

A sweet, oaky, fruity nose. Distinctly Shelter Point, and yet, with quite a nice twist. Blackberries, raisins, caramel, toffee, pear drops, clove, vanilla, strawberry jam – it may sound a bit random but the nose is very cohesive and the oak is very well matched to the spirit. On the palate, rich grain notes battle the fruit and confectionary notes. As on the nose, the dried fruit remains at the centre. The finish sits with oak caramels, baking spice, apple skins, blackberry jam, malt, and herbal, grainy  notes.

While this was inspired, perhaps, by their popular virgin oak finish single cask – this one is very different in profile. It surprised me at first. For that one, complex oaky notes sit in and around everything else – at the centre – while here the oak ties everything together rather than being the prominent figure, and the fruit is much richer. I would tend to reach for this one more often, even if the oak characteristics are a bit less unique (taste-wise).

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

Value: High based on $77.


Review: Shelter Point Single Triple Grain Single Cask Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Shelter Point Grainbow 2.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
7 yrs
Recipe
50% Malted Barley, 25% Unmalted Barley, 25% Rye
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Shelter Point has done a great job with their single cask releases - they’ve all been good, and they’ve all been quite different from one another. This is no exception. This whisky was created from a blend of malted barley, unmalted barley, and rye whisky that was aged in an ex-bourbon cask and then a French oak wine barrel from Coast Black winery for 18 months. To my eye, one of the darkest whiskies released by Shelter Point even though it’s only bottled at 43%.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Single Cask Edition 5

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

A very interesting nose – orange fanta, cola, orange peel, oak, baking spices, coconut, lemon peel – this is all over the place and I wouldn’t even recognize it as Shelter Point blind, I don’t think. The palate shows coffee, sweet oak, baking spice, chicory, caramel, almond, dried fruit, maple, and then finishes with some more chicory, caramel, spice cake, and a touch of smoky, charred wood. The French oak might be making me imagine it – but it does taste like there is some wine influence here. The acidity is slightly present and gives it a nice light zip.

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

Value: Average, based on $82.


Review: Koval Single Barrel Four Grain Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Koval Four Grain.jpg
ABV
47%
Aging
30 gallon charred virgin oak casks
Recipe
Oat, Malted Barley, Rye, Wheat
Distiller Koval (Chicago, Illinois)

If I were to tell you that a distillery in the US had a four grain whiskey, most would automatically assume that the whiskey is made from corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley. Not in this case! In this case, the leading grain is oat, not corn, a grain which Koval has a penchant for (and probably is thebest oat whiskey I’ve tasted). This gets extra added character from the other grains.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Barrel 5C9J3Z

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

A really nice mix of grain and oak. Banana, freshly cut oak, vanilla, pine, dried apricot, steel cut oats, clove, roasted mixed grain, dee spiciness and a distinct bright character which I also find in their millet whisky (but this is altogether different). A touch of woody smoke throughout.  There is a really nice creaminess here.

I quite like what they do with millet – but this is very different. The millet whisky is quite leafy/vegetal (very unique) and is almost phenolic, but retains a bright character. This is fruity, spicy, grainy – less unique but more complex and harmonious. Really rich in character, and most of that isn’t from the oak. This whisky, while less unique, is more complete.

What a nice whisky! It sits very much in-between a grain-led character and a distillery-lead character (from yeasts, distillation characteristics, casks etc.).

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

Value: average, at $112.


Review: Signal Hill Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Signal Hill 1.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
Refill Casks, Virgin White Oak, Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
95% Corn, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller N/A

This is a new addition to Canadian whisky, a non-chill filtered combination of corn and malted barley whiskies matured in Canadian Whisky Casks, New White Oak Casks, and Ex-Bourbon Casks. It is an independent bottling of Canadian whisky, so it wasn’t distilled in Newfoundland, where it was bottled (no distiller is listed). It is bottled by Rock Spirits, who also bottle Screech and George Street Spiced Rum (I like to mix with George St.). The presentation of the whisky is fantastic, too – I find the bottle quite attractive. The whisky is named after Signal Hill, right near where it is produced in Newfoundland - the site of the first reported  transatlantic transmission by Guglielmo Marconi.

They recommend Old Fashioned, Whisky Sours, and Manhattans with this. They all work pretty well, though the manhattans need a lighter vermouth.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is fresh and clean, with light notes of dried berries, floral rum, and gentle oak. There is a nice rich spiciness to it, one that is a bit bitter, in a pleasant fashion that provides some grip. The fruitiness tends to grow with time, revealing more dried fruit and a bit of citrus. The palate is lightly sweet, and very easy. It has light brown sugar, light oak, dried blueberry, clove-studded oranges, and a flourish of vanilla and rum at the end. The finish has a touch of molasses, vanilla, some tannins, hard caramel candies, and clove and white pepper.

This is a very easy whisky to drink, and I find it very pleasant and well balanced – a great choice for a casual whisky. How about a comparison the 10 year old, rum-finished Guy Lafleur whisky from Wiser’s. That has a much deeper grain character and is more full bodied and rich, with less of what seems to be a rum characteristic. But Signal Hill is a bit more straightforward, and doesn’t emphasize the grain as much.

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

Value: Average. It’s a good whisky, and the price isn’t too high. It is perhaps a bit more than I would like to pay for this whisky (35$ might be the sweet spot for me), but that’s still only a difference of 5$.