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Shelter Point Artisanal Cask Strength

Review: Shelter Point Artisanal Cask Strength Whisky 83/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published October 14, 2017

Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt Whiskies are distilled in small batches on Vancouver Island (British Columbia). The distillery uses a single grain approach, and the Canadian barley used for distillation is grown right on their own family farm (in Oyster River) and never blended with other grains. The water source is the spring water that comes from the mountain-fed aquifer directly beneath the Island. Perhaps the only things that aren’t sourced locally are the oak barrels, which were sourced from Kentucky bourbon distillers, and the massive copper pot stills which came from Scotland.

This Shelter Point Whisky was bottled at Cask Strength which for my sample which I analyzed for the Canadian Whisky Awards was 58.4% alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle 4.5/5

As seen from the bottle shot to the left Shelter Point uses a standard medium tall clear glass bottle with a synthetic cork stopper. The neck has a slight bubble to make grabbing the bottle easier, and it is long enough to make pouring easy. The graphics on the label are quite attractive especially considering that Shelter Point is relatively new and probably does not have a huge budget for bottle and label design. I like what I see.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When poured into my glencairn, the whisky displays itself as a pale straw/gold coloured spirit. When I tilt and twirl my glass I see a slightly thickened liquid sheen on the inside which slowly releases a multitude of medium-sized leglets which turn to thickened legs which run back down to the whisky at the bottom of the glass.

When I wrote my brief notes for this dram (when I was a Canadian Whisky Awards Judge) my impression of the nose was as follows:

Nose: Butterscotch, light maple, fine wood spice & light rye and grain, anise, and red licorice. Dusty wood spice builds as the glass sits.

I should have added that the whisky was easily recognizable as a Single Malt with obvious nutty barley (almonds and hazelnuts) and malty sweetness apparent. I like the nose which shows character and complexity.

There is a stern warning of astringency in the air which warns sipping will be a challenging exercise.

In the Mouth 50/60

Again my blind tasting notes were as follows:

Intense heat and spice from high alcohol strength. Malt and Speyside spiciness and red licorice and raisin. Some sweet and sour fruit ,and some  spicy musty tobacco and leather.

Some alcohol astringency due to age and high-proof.

As you can see the cask strength nature of the whisky was apparent. Despite the intensity of the dram I quite liked it. After the judging competition was over I sampled the rest of the whisky in isolation from the others with a bit of ice. The Shelter Point Cask Strength Whisky still had nice spicy punch. I also noticed a lovely honeyed grain flavour which was complimented by butterscotch and almond.

Even with ice the dram is fiery; but I like what I taste.

In the Throat 12/15

Again my blind tasting notes for the finish were as follows:

Needs some more age to settle down the fire. (Reminds me of a Glenrothes in flavour)

The malt whisky finish was obvious; but I was having trouble with the heat. Even with ice the finish sears the throat. Yet, I like it, and manged to finish the sample without too much discomfort..

The Afterburn 8/10

This particular whisky struck me as I was judging and I wrote this footnote to my brief tasting notes:

All the components are there, it just needs a little longer in the cask to smooth out the fire and balance the spice with the oak vanillans and caramel sweetness which comes from aging in charrred wood.

And that footnote I think does well to wrap up the review of a very promising new Single Malt Canadian Whisky.

You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Serving Recommendation:

Lots of Ice and Enjoy!!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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