WHISKY REVIEWS, NEWS, HISTORY & FOLKLORE
The Shelter Point Story
Shelter Point is a Canadian distillery that produces single malt in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Founded in 2011, the distillery overlooks the Strait of Georgia as it flows into the North Pacific ocean. Its whisky was the first Canadian single malt to be selected for bottling by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
In 2005, third-generation farmer, Patrick Evans bought 380 acres of farmland on Vancouver Island. As a means of monetising the barley he was growing, he built a distillery and began to produce a Canadian single malt. Shelter Point was the first pot-still, single malt whisky distillery in British Columbia and only the second in Canada. The Pot Stills were crafted by Forsyths in Scotland and shipped to Canada via the Panama Canal while the mash-lauter and stainless steel washbacks were made by a local artisan fabricator.
Michael Nicholson, a retired Master Distiller with vast experience in the Scotch whisky industry, advised the Shelter Point team for the first six months, laying the groundwork for the years ahead. Nowadays, production is overseen by head distiller, James Marinus.
In January 2023, it was announced that Shelter Point was to become the first Canadian single malt to be bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The SMWS is both independent bottler and club with a membership tens of thousands strong. Members gain access to monthly whisky releases, bottled from single casks that are sourced from distilleries across Scotland – and beyond. Distillery names are left undisclosed, with each being given a unique code. Shelter Point is distillery number 152.
The whisky featured in this review is SMWS Cask No 152.3 “A Fistful of Bananas”. It was distilled at Shelter Point on the 11th of September 2011, placing it among the earliest spirit produced there. The whisky was matured for 10 years in a first fill bourbon barrel. It’s bottled at 65.2% ABV.
Smell: I’m getting quite a bready vibe from the nose. It’s malty and there’s some bourbony corn notes. Oatcakes, caramel, vanilla. Toffee and ginger. Cinnamon. Oak. Citrus. Under the cask influence there’s some apple and fragrant pears. Hay bales. One thing I don’t get, is a fistful of bananas.
Taste: Bourbon, toffee, vanilla… Some white pepper heat with new oaky spice. You certainly feel that 65% ABV. Also some nice pastry notes. Croissants. Honey. A splash of water got me passed the bourbon cask and brought out a lighter, more vibrant spirit character. Lemon, some lime, melon, white grapes. Cereals. Dry, oaky finish.
Thoughts: The initial impression is that of a very bourbon-led single malt but a wee bit of dilution found a better balance between spirit and cask. I liked the freshness and fruitiness of the Shelter Point spirit and found the dram worked better when that was allowed to shine through. You expect quality from the SMWS and you certainly get it here though perhaps it lacks the wee X factor that turns a whisky from good to great. It’s a solid 10-year-old bourbon matured whisky and does enough to suggest that Shelter Point will be a fine addition to the SMWS selection.
Price: £85. A bit of a sticking point. I’ve enjoyed my bottle and it went down well at a tasting I hosted earlier this year but I don’t think it does enough to justify that price.
For more on Shelter Point visit https://www.shelterpoint.ca/
For more on the Scotch Malt Whisky Society visit https://smws.com/
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