Shelter Point 5 Year Old Single Grain Rye 46% alc/vol
A complex synthesis of maple sugar, licorice cough drops, ripe black fruits, sweet flowers, and sizzling pepper, painted in oils on an artist’s canvas. ★★★★Starting a small distillery is always a struggle, and Shelter Point is no different. Still, when partners, Andrew Currie, Jay Oddleifson, and Patrick Evans first set out to distill malt whisky on Evans’ farm near Campbell River B.C. they couldn’t possibly have imagined what lay in store for them. Weathering a dearth of trades people to build the distillery was discouraging. Learning that their custom-crafted copper pot stills had been impounded by zealous U.S. custom authorities was disheartening. And the financial stresses of start-up almost proved fatal when the partnership itself imploded. Finally, however, in June of 2011, with some 300 whisky lovers on hand to witness it, Shelter Point laid down its first barrels of malt whisky.The partnership question was answered when Evans, along with his wife Kimm assumed full ownership of the operation. James Marinus, who did much of the construction, took on the role of distiller. He did so under the expert tutelage of Scottish distiller, Mike Nicholson. And finally spirit began to flow. The spirit itself? Fruity, clean, and just a tad malty.But that’s not what we’re tasting today. It will be years before Shelter Point has malt whisky ready to bottle. In the meantime, they have sourced some fine five-year-old, pot-distilled 100% rye whisky which they are bottling on site and have for sale in the gift shop. “When people come to visit us they want to take something back with them,” says Evans. It’s also a good source of cash flow while Shelter Point’s own spirit quietly sleeps.It’s good stuff this Shelter Point rye, and for Canadian whisky lovers well worth the trek three hours north from Victoria to visit the distillery. As it says on the label: “Shelter Point Distillery takes inspiration from traditional Scotch distilleries. Making a good whisky takes time. While we wait, this single grain Canadian rye whisky has been selected by us for your enjoyment.”Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that they take inspiration from Irish distilleries as well, for tucked away at the back of the warehouse are several barrels of pure pot still whisky made in the traditional Irish fashion with malted and unmalted barley combined. It will be a true Celtic celebration when Evans and Marinus finally decide those few barrels are ready to bottle.A farmer by profession, Evans has plans to grow his own barley and malt it right on the farm. Now that’s what I call a “grain to glass,” “seed to still,” “crop to shop,” "field to flask" operation!Nose: maple sugar, burlap sacs, plasticine, hard rye, dry grain, dried fruit and hints of sweet solvents. Quite complex. A generic fruitiness turns to apple cider and red cherries, then floral notes of rose water and vague lilacs sweeten into icing sugar.Palate: Earthy, very hot, citrusy and rich in tones of linseed oil and canvas. Sourish licorice root, ripe black fruits, black Smith’s Brothers cough drops, a lovely bitter pithiness, subtle sweetness, and tingling spices.Finish: Longish, peppery.Empty Glass: Caramel, dry firewood, and cinnamon hearts.Highly recommended. ★★★★$39,00 at the distillery only. Quantities are limited.