“O Canada!” Barrel of Sunshine Liqueur 30%

During my last trip to Canada, the kind folks from Shelter Point not only sent a bottle of their rather enjoyable single malt…. they also sent along this gem too.

However I was in a quandary… how to bring back when I was already over my allowance with the Shelter Point Single Malt, G&W and No 99 Red Cask?

Galloping to the rescue was a dear friend, more like a brother… who is also originally from Winnipeg… who’s mother just happened to be coming to Mumbai before the close of 2017. Shameless about getting interesting drams into India, she was asked… my folks dropped off this with a few other small goodies from Canada and this bottle made its way to Mumbai, India in time for our “O Canada!” celebration of Canadian whiskies.

Now I’m not normally a sweet liqueur kind of person… however one can always make an exception! And it seemed fitting to have a little treat with our desert after sampling our whiskies, quaffing our meal… to relax a bit longer…

So what did we think?

Barrell of Sunshine Liqueur 30%

  • Nose – Christmas in a bottle! Chock full of warm marmalade, sweet spices, curling maple candy
  • Palate – Sweet yet not cloyingly so, lovely to slowly sip
  • Finish – A light lovely dancing sweet spice remains

In short, we loved it! Overall there is a whimsical, lyrical quality to this liqueur. And it is an absolutely perfect sipping accompaniment to a rich chocolaty desert or Christmas pudding.

For those unfamiliar, Shelter Point makes artisanal spirits on the west coast of Canada… more specifically near Oyster River on Vancouver Island.  They either grow their own barley or source from other local farmers, passionate about creating quality something authentically local.

Here is what the folks over at Shelter Point have to say:

Perhaps if you saw the sunlight dance on the ocean waves near our farm, you’d wonder too: if you could bottle sunshine, what would it taste like? We thought about it and were determined to find out. Our answer: Sunshine Liqueur. Created in 2016, Sunshine is a small-batch, specialty blend of Canadian spirits and pure Canadian maple syrup coupled with a selection of natural extracts bursting with flavour. We call our signature blend, Orange Spice Maple.

Tasting Notes

Orange Spice Maple: This rich, copper liqueur combines the aromas of fresh oranges, sweet vanilla mandarin and honey maple. Its palate is smooth and sweet, with zesty citrus undertones and a warm finish.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Shelter Point Single Malt

I’m utterly shameless when it comes to Shelter Point. I thoroughly enjoyed their 1st Batch – finding it exactly right for an easy drinking yet interesting dram. Remarkable patience was clearly taken to not jump the gun, putting it out when it was actually ready to be consumed, unlike many new distilleries who pump out product before it is truly ready.

Having shared the 1st bottle with the Whisky Ladies, it was time to give the folks in our original club a try… one member had even sampled it in Amsterdam and was thrilled to revisit.

So what did we think?

Shelter Point Single Malt 46%

  • Nose – Initially a bit of curdled milk, slightly medicinal, then shifted into  green apple – like a crisp Granny Smith apple, fresh cut grass, then began to mellow into a hazelnut creamer, almost buttery like, one even found it had a Viognier white wine quality – fruity and complex…. exceedingly inviting and approachable
  • Palate – Classic smooth single malt, chocolate, enough spice to make it interesting, malty, a bit bitter but in a good way, had great balance
  • Finish – Stays… subtle yet goes on and on and on

Finally a proper single malt!! We sighed in pleasure… delighted to be in our whisky ‘happy place’ with such a beautiful dram.

Their tagline “Sunshine and sea air: unofficial ingredients in every bottle” has a rather apt homespun charm about it. We don’t disagree.

For those interested in the ‘facts’ here’s what the folks over at Shelter Point have to say:

  • Still: Custom-designed copper still
  • Base: Two-row barley (That’s it. Nothing else.)
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled and non-chilled filtered
  • Alcohol Content: Bottled at 46% Alc.Vol
  • Bottle Size: 750ml
  • Packaging: Classic Tennessee-style bottle features Vinolok glass closure and original engraving of Shelter Point Farm created by renowned illustrator Steve Noble

This bottle was provided courtesy of the distillery… sent from British Columbia to my folks in Manitoba as it still isn’t available in that province yet. It is presumably from their 2nd batch as their 1st ran out last year! All I can say is – I’m a fan. Period.

I’ve also been keenly watching some of their cask strength experiments and looking forward to another opportunity to try what they next create!

If you happen to be in BC and happen to be lucky enough to locate a bottle – grab it and enjoy it.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Wayne Gretzky No 99 Red Cask 40%

“The Great One”

That’s what I grew up hearing Canada’s Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky being called.

Since retirement, he went into creating a wine estate and has now branched into whisky. Yes whisky.

When I first saw a bottle, thought “Could it really be any good?”

I’ll be honest… I had rather… ahem… modest expectations. Particularly after Sula’s rather unimpressive experiment with shifting from making wine to whisky with Eclipse.

However the Canadian nostalgic pride won me over and it made it into the quartet imported to India to share with friends as part of a wee celebration of Canada’s 150 years!

So what did we think?

Wayne Gretzky No 99 Red Cask 40%

  • Nose – Fresh, a bit shy, woodsy, vanilla, faint chocolate, sweet wild flowers, a sugary dusting like on cake, camomile tea
  • Palate – Very pronounced camomile tea, with an echo of a dry red wine… as you roll it about your mouth, the tannins are even more apparent and a fruity citrus orange flavour then emerges
  • Finish – Sweet then bitter then actually a bit spicy

To be honest, we couldn’t quite make up our minds about this one. There is something a bit peculiar about it. Definitely different. Not bad but not something you would go “Oh gosh I wish I had more of that!” However it is unique and it isn’t a disaster so am glad it made its way from Canada to India.

It was revisited and again, once you adjusted to its slightly different character, it makes a reasonable sociable companion to the evening… almost distracting as it doesn’t quite ‘fit’ the standard whisky categories…. and every sip or two it reminds you of this.

Here is what the folks at Ontario’s LCBO have to say:

A remarkable blend produced from locally sourced grains and finished in red wine casks from the winery which impart a pale amber colour. Expect a smooth and refined flavour profile that includes notes of marzipan, light citrus, vanilla, oak and spice; the finish is long, warming and balanced.

It was released October 13, 2016, made in Ontario, Canada by Andrew Peller Limited with a style described as “Medium & Fruity.”  It is a blend of rye, malty rye and corn with the current  stock from an unspecified Ontario distillery, with plans to distill their own blend coming in the future.

The folks over at the the wine estate and distillery recommend serving No 99 Red Cask in a cocktail – the Great Old Fashioned and Top Shelf look like a rather apt combination!

I bought this at the 55 Bloor Street LCBO at Ron’s recommendation for CND $39.95. And at that exceedingly reasonable price point (by our standards this side of the globe), it fits the bill for pulling off something ‘different’ at an affordability you are happy to experiment! So not bad at all folks.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Gooderham + Worts Four Grains Canadian Whisky 44.4%

When I was in Toronto in September 2017, I happened to pass by the old Gooderham  + Worts distillery from 1837, right in old downtown Toronto. While the original facility is no longer operational, Corby’s distillery has picked up the mantle to produce the blended whisky under the guidance of master blender Dr. Don Livermore.

Naturally that meant a bottle had to make its way back to India for an all Canadian whisky evening.

So what did we think?

Gooderham + Worts Four Grains Canadian Whisky 44.4% 

  • Nose – Quite closed, muted, powder, lemon, grains, dry dusty cereals
  • Palate – Sweet then bitter, oddly ‘flat’
  • Finish – Bitter
  • Water – Made it quite palatable, very sweet and revealed cinnamon candy

Hmm… we tried… we really tried… but this whisky just wasn’t talking to us.

What did I do? Offered it at a social occasion and it was a complete hit. Add a splash of chilled water, ice and voila! It was such a favourite I barely snatched it away before the last drop was drained…

So the verdict is? A good blend for social occasions.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” Crown Royal Canadian Harvest Rye 45%

When Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye sky rocketed from obscurity to celebrity hood… it was hard to believe my home province of Manitoba produced a dram that flew off the shelves around the world.

While rumour had it the original idea was to have it be a ‘one time thing’ (though high volume), given its popularity it didn’t take long for Crown Royal to pump out more.

And this particular bottle? While I can’t guarantee its from the same batch that led to it becoming the World’s Best Whisky of 2016, it certainly is from around that time and purchased in Manitoba…

So what did we think?

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 45%

  • Nose – Fresh honey, lightly roasted spices, a zest of lemon, tobacco, caramel, fresh polished furniture, pineapple (with a debate on whether it is more like tinned pineapple than baked or honey glaze roasted), candied orange, very sweet, beneath it all a bit of white chocolate
  • Palate – Initial swig was very rye, some wood, spice, a bit tingly, then started to take on other qualities like Japanese pickled ginger, it was clearly young but not the least bit harsh, and while a bit bitter, this simply gave it some character
  • Finish – Bitter cereal finish, then sweet
  • Water – Just made it even smoother, not needed but can certainly continue to hold its own with a splash

We hadn’t thought we would find this whisky so interesting – yet every minute the aromas shifted. We all found it most enjoyable… even those who tried Northern Harvest Rye previously were pleasantly surprised.

And as a start to our evening? A perfect pick!

Pst My father picked this up in Winnipeg for under $40.

What else did we have in our “O Canada” 150th Celebration?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

“O Canada!” 150 years Whisky Celebration

Most folks know I’m Canadian… though I’ve called India home for more than a decade.

And with Canada celebrating its 150th anniversary, it seemed fitting to have an evening devoted purely to Canadian whiskies…. before it was the  end of 2017!

What made the final cut are two whiskies I’d tried before and two which were completely new to me!

Followed by a wee nip of Barrel of Sunshine Liqueur 30%, courtesy of our friend’s at Shelter Point.

So there we were, middle of December, Christmas lights twinkling, glasses clinking and merriment all around.

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Speed Tasting – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 45%

During monsoon, we had a remarkable experience “Speed Tasting” where we rated five different drams in the space of 15 minutes with approximately 2-3 minutes per dram.

We had no idea what we were sampling… This was my 2nd dram and merely known as whisky “B”…

Our first part was tasting in silence and rating

What were my hasty impressions?

  • Nose – Sweet, fruity, yoghurt, young and fresh, light spice, quite piquant, a bit of grass and a quality almost like agave, then shifted to sweet – like candy floss or bazooka gum or juicy fruit or banana candies or… (you get the picture!) –  returning later it was pure honey sweet
  • Palate – Much spicier than the nose indicated, almost harsh on 1st sip, peppery, then settled down and became sweeter and smooth
  • Finish – Holds for a bit but quite linear
  • Character & Complexity – Bright, young, and dropped its spice to become insanely sweet

Our 2nd part was brief discussion with a wee bit of guessing…

Impressions – most thought this may be rye. We also thought it wasn’t your ordinary rye and may be matured in something quite different – perhaps cognac cask.

None of us gave this top rating however it certainly wasn’t last.

And the reveal?

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 45%

I’ll admit that I’m not so familiar with rye whiskies… and I certainly didn’t pinpoint this as Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye, even after we were given a short-list of options. Admittedly, I’d had it only in passing with no proper tasting so far. What I remembered most was an almost ‘ginger ale’ quality which I didn’t connect with this experience.

And what did Jim Murray have to say in his 2016 Whisky Bible when awarding this dram?

  • Nose 25/25 – The rye is not just profound and three dimensional, but has that extraordinary trick of allowing new elements to to take their place: rarely does ulema honey and manuka honey link arms when rye is around, but they do here, yet never for a second diminish the sharpness and presence of the grain;
  • Taste 24/25 – Salivating and sensual on delivery, hardly for a second are we not reminded that rye is at work here. And it makes itself heard loudly through the stiff backbone from which all the softer, sugary notes emanate. Crunchy and at times bitter, though in a pleasant controlled way from the grain, rather than from a questionable cask.
  • Finish 23.5/25 – Quietens rapidly, though only for a moment or two before the spices begin to pulse again and vanillas take up their comfortable positions;
  • Balance & Complexity 24.5/25 – This is the kind of whisky you dream of dropping into your tasting room. Rye, that most eloquent of grains, not just turning up to charm and enthral but to also take us through a routine which reaches new heights of beauty and complexity. To say this is a masterpiece is barely doing it justice.

And the official Crown Royal tasting notes?

  • Nose – Baking spices, cereal, light wood spices
  • Palate – Gentle oak note, rich butterscotch, spiced vanilla, develops into soft peppery notes
  • Finish – Smooth and creamy

A few folks may know that Crown Royal is from my home province of Manitoba. Or that in 2016, I had the pleasure of touring their plant in the very picturesque Gimli with my parents.

Gimli (Photo: Clarina Taylor)

What were the other whiskies “Speed Tasted“?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Happy Canada Day!!

While I may live in India, I’m originally from Canada and the land of my birth is celebrating 150 years today!

In terms of whiskies, most of what is available in Canada isn’t to my taste. However a special treat from my June 2016 trip was acquiring a brand new fresh “hot off” the distillery barrel single malt! Shelter Point single-handedly brought Canadian pride to this Whisky Lady!

I first shared it with our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai in January 2017 followed by a shared nip before the International Scotch Day (by far the best whisky of the night!) and then a rather companionable evening with a fellow whisky lady after we drained the last drops of our Nordic samples.

It is one of those whiskies that just got better and better the more you sipped.

Each time I returned to it, I enjoyed it even more!

No surprise then that they sold out!

I can only hope that Shelter Point’s 1st batch from 2016 is the start of many more interesting and enjoyable whiskies to come!!

So on Canada Day – Cheers to you Shelter Point, eh?!

Shelter Point

Canadian whisky posts:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Whisky Archives – Cracking open the cabinet…

Another from the tasting archives… this time from Sept 2011. Rediscovering these notes brought a flood memories of my previous Mumbai flat… that had a fabulous cabinet in which all my whisky was stashed… now replaced in our current home by a larger storage space waaaaay up high in our kitchen pantry.

We broke with tradition and merrily abandoned all pretense of blind tastings… instead settled down for a sampling of various bottles. It became a  popularity contest between different regions and geographies as small pegs of multiple whiskies were sniffed, swirled, swallowed, savoured and yes – much discussed!

Samplings from earlier sessions - all quaffed at one occasion!

Speyside‘s dominated the evening with:

  • Aberlour’s cask strength Abu’nadh batch 32 (sampled earlier) and batch 31 were compared. Batch 31 was a clear winner and a hit of the evening! Bold yet with an extraordinary warm finish… with layers to discover and enjoy.
  • Aberlour 10 year held its own with slight smokiness and butter, however was overshadowed by it’s cask strength cousin.
  • Cragganmore 12 year was softer on the palate and a nice contrast to the Abelours
  • Glenrothes 12 year (also sampled earlier) gained appreciation for its smooth fruity aroma, sherry note and oak, medium slightly spicy finish.

Islay‘s were represented by a few familiar friends:

  • Bunnahabhain 12 year 40% is a regular favourite with several folks
  • Caol Ila is also well-known and after the last drop of one bottle was polished off, another was opened… Need one say more?
  • Lagavulin 16 year was also a familiar friend but neglected with all the other options…

Highland

  • Dalwhinnie from the highest distillery in Scotland was a delightful gentler ‘everyday’ favourite

Japan

  • Suntory’s Hakushu 18 year…. In a class of its own with hints of forest, moss, nuanced, with a divine finish – simply exquisite. It remains one of my favourites!

Canada

  • Crown Royal from Gimli, Manitoba (my home province) certainly added a different element with rye, however alas outclassed by single malt companions

Naturally what’s expressed here is only one interpretation based on snippets of conversation and personal bias. Would love to hear others opinions on any of these whiskies…

Slainthe!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Whisky Ladies of Mumbai Welcome Canada’s Shelter Point Single Malt Whisky 46%

First in our “out of the ordinary” North American evening was a whisky I’ve been impatiently waiting to try – Shelter Point‘s Single Malt.

Shelter Point is a new distillery based in Campbell, British Columbia, Canada. They consider themselves an artisan distillery with a local-first philosophy – growing and distilling their own barley on-site.

We sampled their inaugural batch of Single Malt, courtesy of Patrick Evans, founder of Shelter Point.

shelter-point

Shelter Point Single Malt 46% (2016 inaugural batch)

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Honey maple, fresh hay, lots of cereals, subtle flowers, crisp green apple then shifted and became less sweet, dash more spice, slightly musty, grass morphing into malt, then chestnuts, flirting back to light florals
  • Palate – Light, cereals, heat at the back then so so soooo smooth, flirtatious spice, salty peanuts, hint of chocolate
  • Finish – Light spice, subtle bitterness

We loved how it started so fresh, bright, and sweet then became a bit spicy and nutty, shifting back and forth between lightness and substance.

Overall, it is most enjoyable. Exceedingly easy to drink. And quite impressive for a 1st foray into the world of single malt whisky.

There are too many new distilleries impatient to put out their single malts before they are ready. In this case, though young, it had none of the harsh, raw elements often found. Instead it had a subtle approach with enough interesting going on to keep us engaged. What a delightful dram to kick-off our evening!

One of whisky ladies shared her memories touring their distillery before this whisky was launched and sampling their many experiments. We both were quite pleased with the results and had a proud Canadian in India moment.

I only read the inaugural batch tasting notes after our sampling and would agree:

Experts tell us that the inaugural batch of Shelter Point Single Malt Whisky has a very nice spice with good barrel sweetness, fruit and floral notes and some chocolate on the nose. It’s nicely finessed with a good balance of complexity and delicateness. Translation? It goes down very, very smoothly.

PS Many thanks Patrick Evans, founder of Shelter Point, for sharing a bottle from your inaugural batch – it is a privelege to have it in Mumbai!

What else did we try in our “out of ordinary” American evening?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: