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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: Verity Rye Spirit (Copper Spirit Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Verity Rye 2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% BC Rye
Distiller Copper Spirit (Bowen Island, BC)

This spirit is made from 100% organic BC rye (hence, “verity” given that many American ryes are made with rye amounts barely above 51%, or Canadian “ryes” which are made with 100% corn!). Copper spirit is also putting some of this down into barrels for whisky down the road (along with wheat).

The label here is beautiful once again, and, as usual with copper spirit’s labels - if you take a close look you’ll see the artwork representative of a core aspect of the spirit. In this case, you can see the rye grain.


Review (2021)

  • Batch:

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

I generally don’t like new make whisky spirits, but I can’t keep away from them because of getting a glimpse at what grains can produce. Hence, I don’t usually rate/give them recommendation ratings. The complexity of some of them are marvelous, even if they often need a barrel to bring things into balance as a whisky. I suppose, in another way, it’s to say – do you like them? “well, I find them interesting”. And this is interesting – baking spices, vanilla, coconut water, grassy spice, marmalade, coconut flour, dried papaya, grassy spice, mint, dried orange peel, a touch of barnyard aromas, and a light oiliness. The oiliness really shows itself on the palate, and the grain character is clean and pure. On the side of new makes – this one is pretty clean. Very complex, yet also very delicate.

The distillery makes this into a number of cocktails, namely margaritas, moscow mules, and rye sours. I like this in sours made with lime or in caiparina variations. But, of course, if you go to the distillery - you’ll find much more.

I’d love to see this as a whisky, but also as a genever. One of the better rye new makes I’ve tasted.


Review: Harmony Gin (Copper Spirit Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Harmony Gin 1.jpg
ABV
42%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% BC rye and botanicals
Distiller Copper Spirit (Bowen Island, BC)

This gin starts from 100% BC organic rye, selected for its depth of flavour as the base of the gin. The base is transformed into gin through maceration and vacuum distillation of botanicals. Vacuum distillation is a technique used which requires less heat to distill, resulting in capturing some of the more delicate character of the botanicals. The combination of the heavy character drawn out through maceration and the delicate character from the vacuum distillation results in a gin which is layered with heavy and delicate botanical characters. There are 13 botanicals used in the gin, including juniper and foraged douglas fir tips that grow abundantly on bowen island. Some of the other botanicals include coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, lemon verbena, lime, ginger, douglas fir, orris root, angelica root, black pepper, and allspice.

The label is beautiful, and if you take a close look, you’ll see that it is representative of a juniper bush- the centre of gin.


Review (2021)

  • Batch:

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

A rich, earthy, spicy and yet bright nose. The palate is lightly creamy with lemon, all sorts of spicy notes, woody notes, and many of the botanicals which show themselves quite clearly: fir/pine notes, cardamon, cinnamon, lime leaf, black pepper, and a good dose of herbaceousness. The balance of juniper, spice, and citrus is fantastic. And the finish is quite impressive with decent length - lively, woody, spicy, and citrusy.

The gin is especially rich when chilled, and its presence is felt clearly in cocktails.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Presence Vodka (Copper Spirit Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Presence Vodka 1.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% BC Wheat
Distiller Copper Spirit (Bowen Island, BC)

This vodka is made from 100% wheat from a co-op in Armstrong BC, using organic, non-GMO grain and yeast. It is based on an old russian recipe, distilled 22 times (!!!) to 95% alcohol before being diluted down to 40% with water. However, the 5% that isn’t alcohol is where the presence of the grain character is transmitted to the drinker - soft, light grain notes. Hence, the name presence.

The label is beautiful, and if you take a close look, you’ll see that it is representative of water - a crucial ingredient in vodka.


Review (2021)

  • Batch:

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Very creamy, with light grain notes on the nose. Subtle nuances of fresh berries, baking bread, and a light nuttiness. The wheat notes, indeed, create subtle nuances and works well with some of the perceived sweetness. The finish is drying, which I really like. It’s clean and clear, but with some nice subtle nuances.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.