I’ve now judged the Canadian Whisky Awards for 4 consecutive years, and it’s always very interesting to see how the landscape of Canadian whisky is evolving. This year, there was a bit of a change – micro-distilleries are starting to challenge the big producers in a way I haven’t seen before. In my view, Two Brewers (Yukon) started to do this since they emerged, but some other distilleries are really catching up – foremost, perhaps, is Shelter Point, whose products seem to improve every year.
When I rate the Canadian whisky awards, I rate with an average of around 83 usually – so with well over 100 whiskies in the past year that means half of the whiskies get in below 83. I only rated 10 whiskies this year 90 or above. Shelter Point entered 6 whiskies, and I scored them an 85,85,87,89 and 89. This means that Shelter Point occupied 3 of my top 20 whiskies that I judged blind - it’s very impressive. They’ve scored reasonably well in the past during previous competitions, but not this well, where they showed up in a rather impressive way and presented very interesting, complex whiskies which took their place in the upper echelons of the whiskies entered even after two or three tastings. The two bottlings for the Strath liquor store - the “classic” bottling and “avant-garde” barley really stood out as cask strength, complex bottlings. Montfort Dl 141, a single malt bottling distilled from a particular lot of barley near the distillery, was much better this year in my opinion - though it was distilled the same way, it had an extra year in the barrel and a bit more French oak.
The other remarkable thing is that it is clear to me that they will continue to improve with age, if they can get there. This means there could be lots more to come…
In the meantime, there’s some more shelter point reviews coming up.