Shelter Point Distiller is located on Vancouver Island. They pride themselves on being an artisanal distillery, and push for the idea of quality over quantity. They source locally, being one of only a handful of distilleries that grow their own barley and distill on the same site.
The only thing that isn’t sourced locally are due to necessity: Turns out that physics states that Kentucky and Vancouver can’t exist in the same space at the same time. Thus they source ex-Bourbon barrels. Finally in Canada our still building ability is nill because we hate alcohol here. Thus they buy massive copper pot stills from Scotland.
They also ensure the whisky is aged within a few hundred yards of the Pacific ocean, ensuring that there’s some flavour imparted on the whisky while aging.
So let’s get down to the whiskies themselves, shall we?
Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt is up first. While there isn’t an age statement written on the whisky itself, I did read that they prefer to have it be at least 5 years old. That said, without that being said explicitly, it’s just me guessing.
That said, this whisky is non-chilled filtered, twice distilled, and made in small batches from their custom-designed copper still. Mashbill is two-row barley from their farm.
Also note, versus the rest of the country, that Vancouver Island is a temperate rainforest climate. So lots of rain, but also warmer than normal.
Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price:$78 CAD at Liquor Barn
Cask Type: American oak barrels
Colour: 5Y 9/3
Nose: Green apple, bitter, sour candy, medium amber honey, malt
Sweet, nice amount of malt, and green apple on the nose. It’s quite sour at first. Opens up with some malt as time goes by.
It’s nice, though I’m looking for a little bit more.
Taste: Peach, spritey, malt, butter, mealie apple, pepper sauce
Okay, first things first: This is fruit forward, and the butter/malt works nicely for it.
That said, it has that taste of fruit that isn’t made to be eaten. That “cider apple” flavour takes over quite a bit. There’s a pepper sauce there that is out of sorts, and I think it’s due to the young age.
Finish: Earth, grain, pepper, brown sugar, bitter
Needs time. There’s a lot of earth going on here, some burn, and some bitter elements. It’s lost the fruit from the taste/nose that I liked so much, but kept the bitter parts.
Conclusion: A good first try. And there’s elements that are starting to become complex. It’s fruit forward, and on it’s way. The nose was the best part of it, with the floral and specific apple notes.
The taste and finish need some more time in the cask. It’s on it’s way to being a really nice fruity malt, and the influence of the region is quite interesting. I look forward to it growing, and trying it again.
Shelter Point Cask Strength is a limited edition that was made from 6 different casks selected, blended together and finished in a French oak cask.
So let’s see how the creme de la creme does, shall we?
Price: $105 CAD at Liquor Barn
Amount of bottles: 1,200
Makeup of blend: 5 casks of single malt aged in American oak combined with one cask of single grain rye aged in the same wood
Cask Types: American oak, then finished in French oak that was used for red wine
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Grapefruit, malt, ginger, vanilla ice cream, peach pie
Tart. Lot more going on here versus the standard single malt. We have some really nice stone fruit flavours. Quite sweet, nice amount of spice.
The vanilla is quite prominent. And if you don’t like vanilla ice cream and peach pie, then I don’t want to talk to you. About those things. I mean, preferences are preferences.
Taste: Nutmeg, ginger, nectarine, artificial strawberry & kiwi juice, cream, cashew
Spicy, nice stone fruit continues, good amount of nuttiness and cream. Takes the spice and ups the amount of creaminess. Quite tasty, and has some nice flavours.
Finish: Peach syrup, ash, cinnamon, wheat, floral, corn, pear
Sadly the finish is quite simple, has some rough areas. Shows off more of a corn note, and I think the grain alcohol is taking too much of a lead here. Ashy note.
Conclusion: Frankly I was blown away that I was about to give such a young whisky such a great note. It’s hitting a lot of the right buttons, save for the finish which has too much grain elements for me to let it be.
Honestly though, this by itself means you should be watching Shelter Point like a hawk. These releases are where they can go, and given some time, I feel their standard can hit this level as well.
World Whisky reviews #253-254, Canada reviews #80-81, Whisky Network reviews #1126-1127