Micro Distillery

Review: River's End Gin (Wolfhead Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of wolfhead distillery.

Image courtesy of wolfhead distillery.

ABV
43%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Wolfhead (Amherstburg, Ontario)

This gin is made using a wheat spirit base. A number of botanicals are incorporated through vapour distillation with the spirit being distilled through a botanical basket that includes Italian juniper, coriander (from Canada and India), Moroccan orris root and grains of paradise, California grapefruit peel, Egyptian hibiscus, Haitian bitter orange peel, Chilean rose hips, Vietnamese star anise, Indonesian cinnamon, and Guatemalan cardamom. Now that’s a world tour!


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Immediately, you get the three classic pillars of gin – juniper, citrus, and spice – in full complement and playing off one another brilliantly. Underneath, there is a really nice berry character and the richness of the juniper is terrific. The brightness of the lemon has been captured really well, and the spice pops on the palate more than the nose – making this a perfect cocktail gin. It’s very clean throughout with a nice long bright, spicy finish. Anyone who reads my gin reviews knows that I really like juniper – so this one plays right up to my style.

The gin is quite scrumptious – it has a nice balance and an underlying sweetness that really plays well off the spice, citrus, and wood. It makes it very easy to sip….

Highly recommended.


Review: Wolfhead Vodka by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of wolfhead distillery.

Image courtesy of wolfhead distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% wheat
Distiller Wolfhead (Amherstburg, Ontario)

Wolfhead distillery makes this vodka from wheat, which tends to give vodkas a good mixture of sweetness and texture with a bit of a grainy bite. Once the wheat mash is fermented, it is distilled seven times to get a pure product.

I’ve done a lot of vodkas recently, which may surprise some - but, it’s mainly because I’ve had a pandemic discovery - I quite enjoy both vodka martinis and gin martinis if there is a good dry vermouth to use. And, pretty well, the better the vodka, the better the martini.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Very clean and slightly creamy with very subtle light blueberry, white pepper, almond, and a slight note of plaintain chips. There is a slight perception of sweetness on the nose. It is clean, light, and very smooth on the palate. The finish is clean, creamy, and maintains that slight perception of sweetness. Once the initial finish fades, everything brightens up slightly with some bean sprout notes.

Highly recommended.


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: Barrel Aged Gateway Gin (Lone Pine Distilling) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of lone pine distilling.

Image courtesy of lone pine distilling.

ABV
45%
Aging
Ex-bourbon cask
Recipe
Wheat and botanicals
Distiller Lone Pine Distilling (Edmonton, AB)

This gin is made by maturing Gateway Dry Gin, the rich and spicy flagship gin of Lone Pine Distilling, in ex-bourbon barrels for a few months.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Very spicy and citrusy coriander, a heavy juniper character, and big lemon. The barrel character is there, with vanilla and toffee – but it doesn’t dominate. On the palate it has a very calming influence on this full-bodied gin, with vanilla and a creamy character coming alongside the big spicy body of the gin. The finish has charred oak, lemon, juniper, and more coriander.

A nice barrel aged gin – barrel character has been added without dominating, keeping it firmly in the gin category for mixing and sipping.

Highly Recommended.


Review: Rocky Mountain Gin (Lone Pine Distilling) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of lone pine distilling.

Image courtesy of lone pine distilling.

ABV
46%
Aging
None
Recipe
Wheat and botanicals
Distiller Lone Pine Distilling (Edmonton, AB)

This gin was created to evoke the wild landscape of the Rocky Mountains. Wild bergamot, wild mint, and roses all grow in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. These were used, alongside juniper, goldenrod, lemon and lime peels, ginger, cardamom, cubeb berries, orris root and a few other botanicals.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

The nose on this one is different than the other Lone Pine gins – this is brighter, lighter, and more floral. Juniper, rose, meadow flowers, and coriander lead into a gin body with a surprising dry fruit character alongside spice, sharp herbal notes, lemon, and a nice light spicy character at the end with a slightly drying finish. The citrus really comes out at the end.

I really like how this one surprised me with the dried fruit on the palate – it really works. Very nice movement – floral, then fruit, then citrus.

Highly Recommended.