We are travelling north for Day Seventeen of the 2019 KWM Whisky Calendar, leaving yesterday’s Bourbon and the United States behind and heading to Canada. Specifically, today’s whisky takes us to Shelter Point Distillery.
Located on a farm halfway between Comox and Campbell River on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Shelter point has been laying down spirit in casks to eventually become whisky since June of 2011. They source much of the barley used from their own farmâ€¦
Shelter Point is first and foremost a farm. At the moment the berry sales to jam makers like Smuckers are really whatâ€™s paying the bills. The farm also grows barley and has a small menagerie of farm animals. Most of the animals aren’t really there for the farm as much as they are to delight owner Patrick Evan’s Grandchildren. And to perhaps one day populate an ark.
Patrick Evansâ€™ is a third-generation farmer whose family has been farming in the Comox Valley of British Columbia since the turn of the 20th Century. He is now joined in the business by at least one of his three daughters and his son in law Jacob. Patrick purchased the land that is now Shelter Point Farm and Distillery in 2005. Situated along the coast of Vancouver Island where the Oyster River meets the sea, it was formerly a University of British Columbia research farm with a large dairy barn. That dairy barn now serves as cask warehousing and barley storage.
Shelter point started releasing Single Malt Whisky a few years ago now and has slowly expanded its range of releases. It all began with an unpeated single malt, which was eventually joined by a Malt and Rye small batch. Then small releases of French Oak/wine cask finished single malts were added as well as the superb Montfort Lot 141, which combines some unmalted barley grown on the Shelter Point farm as well as malted barley.
Back in September of 2017, Andrew, Curt and myself made the trek to visit the distillery, and with that visit selected a few Shelter Point casks for Kensington Wine Market. This includes our own Shelter Point Single Malt KWM Cask and the Shelter Point Rye KWM Cask.
In a somewhat backwards move compared to other craft distilleries that have popped up in the time since Shelter Point began making whisky, the distillery just started releasing their own Shelter Point Gin this past summer.
A little while after the selection, we heard from Patrick Evan’s son in law Jacob Wiebe that they had managed to get their hands on some Laphroaig Quarter Casks. I think we at KWM were as excited as the Shelter Point crew was at the idea of finishing a batch of their single malt in these peated whisky casks from Islay.
When Shelter Point bottled the results of this experiment, they called it Shelter Point Smoke Point. Both the full-sized bottles and 50ml version that we now hold in our hands for day seventeen are exclusively available through Kensington Wine Market for Alberta. Shall we go ahead and give it a taste?
Exclusive to KWM in Alberta, the Shelter Point Smoke Point is the distillery’s first ever peated expression. The whisky was matured 5 years in ex-Bourbon before finishing for 9 months in ex-Laphroaig Quarter Casks. 1044 bottles were produced with just 36 coming to Alberta. Bottled at 55% ABV.
Producer Description: “Introducing Shelter Pointâ€™s first ever peat influenced whisky. This single grain smoky delight has been aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks for 5 years and finished in casks previously used by a famous Islay distillery for 8 months. This special bottling consists of only 1044 hand numbered bottles. The whisky is made from malted and unmalted barley and picks up influences of bourbon from the American oak cask and peated whisky from the ex-Islay casks. Sweet, smoky and complex, this whisky is perfect for a dram by the fire.”
Evan’s Tasting Note
Nose: White chocolate, buttercream and malted barley wrapped up in a waft of earthy smoke. Leather and pipe tobacco, Herbal Tea with liquorice, hot cross buns, baked apple turnover, peaches & cream, oval-tine, and a touch of orange zest on top of it all.
Palate: Fruity with earthy spice and a dash of salt. Creamy on the tongue with notes of oranges and cloves, Irish cream, angel food cake with milk chocolate icing, pistachios, creamy peanut butter, pear slices and tapioca pudding.
Finish: Creamy finish with lingering spice and oak notes.
Comment: This is deftly put together. The Shelter Point spirit and style still comes through and is married nicely with the brine and peat of the ex-Islay casks.
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*The Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar is produced under license from Secret Spirits, Scotch Whisky Advent Calendarâ„¢