Single Malt

Review: Shelter Point Single Cask Rye Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Shelter+Point+Rye+Single+Barrel.jpg
ABV
59.7%
Aging
~10 yrs
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

This whisky is about 10 years old, originally distilled in Alberta (not at Shelter Point) and brought to BC in 2011. It is a distillery-exclusive, single cask release, 100% rye, with only 206 bottles - and will not be a regular release. For you Shelter Point fans, this is a good one.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Distinctly shelter point with the oily notes, but still very different – marshmallow, sharp flowers (lilac and lavender), clove, white pepper, dark chocolate, and even some pepper. Sweet vanilla, and a nice bracing from the oak too. There is a nice spicy edge to this one, throughout - The palate remains sharp, with a rich oily core and loads of floral notes, finishing with lightly bitter spice. It has a really nice middle, and isn’t too spicy at cask strength. The finish is sweet, with vanilla, custard, some dried fruit, and a nice oiliness. Baking spice and tannin, too. The sweetness nicely balances the alcohol strength, and it has enough richness to do well at 60%.

I really like that it’s bottled at cask strength – I quite enjoy this. I love the continued exploration of rye in Canada. My favourite way to drink it is neat, at cask strength, in a cognac snifter.

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

Value: Low, but nearly in the average category at $110.


Review: Fils Du Roy Appalachia New Brunswick Canadian Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
2.5 yrs Ex-bourbon; .5 yrs Virgin Oak
Recipe
60% Malted Barley, 40% Malted Rye
Distiller Fils du Roy (Petit-Paquetville, New Brunswick)

The first rye from Fils du Roy - a fantastic distillery - so I’ve been looking forward to a taste for some time! This is produced using a low temperature fermentation and distillation only of the liquid components of the wash (i.e. no solids). This is matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and char #3 virgin oak. Three barrels were released in 2018, yielding 1000 bottles. There is more coming in 2020, but the focus at Fils du Roy is single malt so it is relatively limited.

However, of interest is that Fils du Roy is preparing some maltings to peat their own rye with New Brunswick peat. A 30 acre field of rye has already been earmarked for the project this fall.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Lots of grain, with a thick, almost porridge-like grainy characteristic – it’s quite nice. This is balanced against a clean, light oak and mixed orchard fruit. Broad, pleasant, and interesting on the palate with a rich grainy character with a nice touch of dried citrus peel in the middle. This is quite impressive, and a step above the other stuff that Fils Du Roy has produced. It’s full in flavour and balanced, and it really has a nice middle to it.

There is some nice rye spice to it, over and above what is present in their single malt – but it still has a lot of the richness which is present in a lot of Fils du Roy whiskies.

This whisky was tied for my 20th favourite whisky (of well over 100) in the 2019 Canadian Whisky Awards, tied with whiskies like Lot no. 40 (which isn’t what it used to be, mind you). That says something.

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

Value: N/A. I’m not sure what this costs. I’d see if you can try before you buy and form your own opinion on if it’s worth purchasing!


Review: Fils Du Roy Single Malt Homage at Congres Mondial Acadien 2019 by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
3 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Fils du Roy (Petit-Paquetville, New Brunswick)

Another Fils du Roy single malt, specially released for the 2019 world acadian congress, composed of two barrels. It was aged in a combination of ex-bourbon casks and char #4 American oak. 415 bottles were produced, each numbered with a date from 1604 (when Acadia was created) to 2019.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

A nice wheatiness to this one – cream of wheat, but also orange, clove, and coconut. But more – pastry creams, pistachio, caramel, and vanilla. The palate is clean, light, with a slight dried fruit zestiness and a rich graininess towards the finish. A nice kick of oaky vanilla, just at the end. The fruitiness is quite vibrant here. Young and complex.

This is worth trying, but it still has more time to go.

Value: N/A. I’m not sure what this costs, and is probably not very available given the limited nature of the bottling.


Review: Fils Du Roy Single Malt Homage a Richelieu International by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
2.5 yrs in Ex-Bourbon Barrel, 0.5 yrs in Virgin Oak
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Fils du Roy (Petit-Paquetville, New Brunswick)

Another Fils du Roy single malt bottled for Richelieu International, with 500 bottles produced only available to members of the organization which celebrated its 75th anniversary this month. Richelieu International is a Francophone organization which helps youth and children in need.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Rich baking spices, red river cereal, anjou pear, cinnamon, earth– and a striking combination of spice and grain, like a particularly spicy mix of lightly roasted grain. The fruitiness is quite vibrant here, and there is a deep set of fermentation flavours. Young and complex. The spices bloom on the palate with a rich roasted graininess, dried apricot, dried peach, and even a bit of dried mango. The fruitiness really builds towards the finish. The finish is full of light grain, vanilla, and white pepper.

A nice rich grainy palate, which does a nice trick. I really like the spiciness. The best single malt I’ve had from Fils du Roy.

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

Value: N/A. I’m not sure what this costs, and is probably not very available given the limited nature of the bottling.


Review: Diamond S Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy and copyright of Rig Hand Distillery.

Image courtesy and copyright of Rig Hand Distillery.

ABV
45%
Aging
3 yrs; ex-wheat whisky, ex-bourbon, and ex-sherry barrels
Recipe
100% Single Malt
Distiller Rig Hand (Nisku, AB)

Rig Hand’s first single malt came of age in December of 2018, and was released to the market. The whisky is made with Rahr Malting’s 2-row malted barley, and starts in a 10-gallon ex-wheat whisky barrel for 8 months, followed by 9 months in a 25 gallon ex-bourbon barrels from Ohio, followed by 18 months in 53 gallon ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky and finished in 55 gallon sherry casks. This is the first batch, but Rig Hand is sitting on the rest of their barrels for a longer period to encourage further maturation. Particularly with single malts, time greatly improves the product - so I would expect the product to improve in the coming years.

Also, rig hand has put away some single malt smoked with Alberta peat (!!!).


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 001

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Fruity, buttery, and spicy – with a nice nutty characteristic to it and some oak and vanilla. There is toffee, mixed grain, green pear, baking bread, biscuit, caramel, and macadamia nuts. It’s spicy on the nose, too. It’s still a bit rough, but it has a really nice rich farm characteristic to it – in a very good way – like the great earthy smell of rich earth and agriculture.  The palate has lots of dried fruit a really nice malty kick at the end. The finish is slightly sour and spicy. The finish is big and farmy, with a nice malt characteristic at the end!

I really like the rich earthiness, and it has a great core which will improve with time it the cask. Also, it’s a spirit that will get better as it sits in the bottle, I expect.

Value: Low, based on $115. In large part, young micro-distilled single malts can’t compete on a price level with the whisky market at large dollar for dollar.


Review: Eau Claire Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Eau+Claire+Whisky+1.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
First fill ex-bourbon and sherry hogsheads; 3-4 years old
Recipe
100% Alberta Malted Barley
Distiller Eau Claire (Turner Valley, Alberta)

This whisky is the first release from Eau Claire, a distillery in Alberta which opened in 2014 and focuses hugely on Alberta Grain, specifically very local grains produced within 100 miles of the distillery. Moreover, the distillery itself has a stable of plough horses with a focus on the production of house-grown grain.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 02

  • Bottling Date: 2019

  • Bottling Code: N/A

The nose is quite rich and grainy – pepper jelly, currants, roasted malts, white pepper, and mixed nuts all jump out of the glass. The spirit isn’t very heavy, and carries with it a very nice balance of fruit, spice, and grain. The palate has a rich set of caramels, milk chocolate, lightly roasted malt, toasted macadamias, spicy dry oak tannins, and clove. The finish is still full of dried fruit, toasted grain, and a touch of baking sweetbread. There is a real richness here, yet the spirit is quite clean and balanced. Very well done for a young single malt!

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This is a very pleasant surprise. I haven’t seen many young single malts that have been so refined in Canada. It actually reminds me a touch of Westland’s single malt – which is much oakier, nuttier, and deeper – but they share some similarities.

Value: Average. Toward the low end of my “average” category, but it isn’t “low” value even at $102, and certainly not in the context of craft single malt - which shows the quality of this stuff.


Review: Westland Celebrious American Single Malt Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Westland Distillery.

Image courtesy of Westland Distillery.

ABV
52.7%
Aging
American Oak (47 months) + tequila barrel ( months)
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Westland (Seattle, Washington)

Westland releases an April Fool’s day bottling of single malt every year, joining the likes of the esteemed “Boldsmooth” and “Sport Dram”. This year is a parody of social media - with whiskey swag alongside “Celebrious” branded mirrors, tacky “celebrious status” badges with the invitation to “everything awesome” and pro-tips on maintaining celebrity status.

“In the age of celebrities

and the spirits that celebrate them,

In a world where everyone can have their moment in the spotlight,

there is a new star rising….

Any celebrity worth 15 minutes of fame,

deserves their own whiskey.

A whiskey that says, ‘I’ve made it'!’

Now you can count yourself among the echelon of the elite.

You are one of the rare few to have the adoration of thousands,

and the whiskey to prove it”.

More seriously though, how often do we see Tequila finishes? They are becoming more popular, but are still not commonplace yet.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose has a nice mix of dried red berries and dried fruit, roasted jalapeno, soursop, white pepper, light smoke, baking bread, vanilla, and hard caramel sugar candies. The palate has tequila spices and dried fruit notes which fade to spice and oak, with a nice kick of roasted grain leading into the finish. The finish has a rich dried fruitiness, spice, light oak, and a touch of minerality and earth. Lots of dry tequila spice on the finish.

Quite good and reasonably balanced, but it doesn’t quite come together in terms of both depth and breadth like some of the other Westlands – but maybe that is the point. It’s a bit sweet, too. Still, quite nice - and 52.7% is quite nice.

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

Value: N/A.


Review: Sivo Le Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Sivo+Single+Malt+2.jpg
ABV
42%
Aging
New European Oak; Sauternes Barrel Finish
Recipe
100% Quebec Malted Barley
Distiller Maison Sivo (Montérégie, Quebec)

Sivo Le Single Malt is matured at first in new oak and then finished in Sauternes casks, giving a rich and developing fruitiness to the whisky. It’s in high demand, and in Sivo’s own words - they can’t make enough of it. At present, it is only available in Quebec. I’ve tasted a number of cask samples from there - they have some interesting casks going, including an incredibly honeyed beer barrel.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019; Finished in Sauternes Casks

  • Bottling Date: 2019

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Sharply nutty and full of quite intense grain – like buckwheat soba noodles, but also pain thinner and sharp rye sourdough. Very sharp and unique, but still could use a bit more barrel time – much like le rye. Dried, sweet, fruit throughout, too – dates, raisins -  with a growing sense of roasted grain on the palate and a lot of woody – oak, maple, and chestnuts. There is a nice charred and smoky note – a bit like cacao – towards the end. Nice medium bodied, mixed grain finish with dried fruit, cacao, oak, and oaky spices. It has a terrific finish with a great balance between the dryness, sweetness, and tartness. The finish makes the whisky very moreish – it is having me come back and back.

It is sharp and nutty much like Le Rye – but the palate is softer and lighter. In terms of 3 year old single malts, this is pretty good. The grain character is not too heavy/rough (though it is sharp) - it  works well. It doesn’t have the spicy or tea notes of the rye, but it isn’t as rye. I like it more, but it isn’t as interesting. They are both whiskies to watch as they continue to develop and age.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). It still has the harshness of youth and heavy oak, but this is very interesting and carries spicy, earthy, wine, and grainy notes really well.The finish is just awesome, and it really draws you in. It is very complex, and worth trying. Notably, it’s a touch better and more balanced than the first batch I tasted.

Value: Average. Exactly in the middle of the category too. Notably, cheaper than most craft distilled single malts at $55 and this had a sauternes finish to boot.


Review: Sivo Le Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
42%
Aging
New European Oak; Port Barrel Finish
Recipe
2/3 Quebec Rye, 1/3 Malted Barley
Distiller Maison Sivo (Montérégie, Quebec)

Maison Sivo was started by the Sivo family, who originally came from Hungary where the national drink is palinka, an unaged fruit brandy. With that background, Maison Sivo distills a number of fruit spirits along with some whiskies, currently a rye and a single malt. It’s a relatively new product.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

There is paint thinner and nail polish remover on the nose, and the alcohol is a bit prominent at its bottling strength of 42% - but with some water this fades and complexity is really drawn out. The nose is centred around some really nice grainy notes, reminding me of the warm smell of fermenting rye grain. There are lots of peppery notes, loads of rye spices (baking spices, green and grassy spice, and lilac), along with cherry juice, prunes, and a sweet wine character. The palate is sharp, spicy, and fruity – very jammy, with a nice oaky backbone. The spicy, dried fruit character of the port really comes out towards the end of the palate. The finish is dry and spicy, with white pepper, lilac, dried cherry, and vanilla.

The youth comes through on this one – but there’s lots of complexity and the whisky is quite interesting and has reasonable balance. As/if this whisky gets older, there’s a lot of potential! If you want to explore something that is a bit more unique and intriguing, I’d recommend, and I expect if the distillery can age it longer it may not be far from something special. It’s a bottle I’ve flagged to follow over the next few years.

Value: Average..


Review: Shelter Point French Oak 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; Blackberry Wine Finish
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Shelter Point double barreled some of their whisky in French oak blackberry 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

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

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.