“Dining delight” Shelter Point Double Barrelled (2018) 50%

Imagine sitting down to a table overflowing with food – some contrasting salads, maple glazed carrots, beans, corn on the cob, pasta, roasted meat – and beside it sits a glass of liquid, pairing perfectly.

Naturally you thought wine, right? Perhaps even a Pinot Noir…  But what if the image shifted from a deep large round glass of red wine to the distinctive contours of a Glencairn glass? Containing instead a beautiful whisky from the west coast of Canada… ?

While you may be surprised, if you tried, you would not be disappointed!

But first, our  Whisky Ladies of Mumbai had a chance to discover… Here is what they had to say…

Shelter Point Double Barrelled French Oak Cask Finish Single Malt (2018) 50%

  • Nose – Sweetness, a bit musty and shy initially, then a lovely perfume, caramel, fruit, butter popcorn, candied apple, flowers
  • Palate – Spice, lots of variation, very different, whisky and wine combine
  • Finish – Long, dark grape peel, even some rich buttery ghee, a pinch of salt

Then a few weeks later our original Mumbai tasting group checked it out.

We discovered this whisky had certainly evolved… none of the musty elements, though some found it retained a bit of “shyness” on the nose until it opened up in the glass…

  • Nose – A lovely wine note, surely it must have held red wine in the French oak cask? It also had a light almond aroma mixing with the sweet fruits and berries
  • Palate – Such character! A nice balance of sweet and dryness, wood, spice and tannins, clear stamp of red wine with a nice body
  • Finish – Some light spice?

The more we sipped, the more we enjoyed this one. It had a wonderful palate… almost like sipping a good red wine.

As we sat down to dinner, this whisky made a brilliant companion. It truly turned out to be a perfect “dinner whisky” – wonderful!

It was then further revisited with a few friends not long after:

  • Nose – Soooo fruity! Pear, blackberry, sugar sweet and malty, macadamia nuts, cherry
  • Palate – Marvellous! Less sweet than the nose indicated, more substance. Is that coffee? Certainly more of those yummy berries with a nice peppery spice… not in the least bit harsh
  • Finish – Character follows through with a vanilla cream close

As before, the more we sipped, the more we enjoyed. It was much more complex than the other Shelter Points… one that requires you to slow down and pay attention.

I confirmed with the folks over at Shelter Point that their 2nd edition was in collaboration with Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, with a French Oak cask which previously held their rich fruity Pinot Noir.

All our speculation about the cask used for the finish fell into place – there was no doubt the dark grape, the tannis and berry fruitiness came from the wine cask.

Curious to know more? Here is what Shelter Point has to say:

We hand selected 4 of our finest Single Malt whisky casks and finished them in French oak wine barrels, previously home to Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir. Aged in our American oak for six and a half years, and then finished for 1993 hours in the flavourful French oak, Shelter Point Double Barreled Whisky is a sensational marriage of spirits.

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: A deep, rich berry jam with toffee apple and toast. Stewed fruits, figs and rum raisins followed by powdered jelly doughnuts.
  • Palate: Sweet, juicy tropical fruits with oak and forest berries.
  • Finish: A warm peppery finish of cherry pie and salted caramel.

Whisky Facts:

  • Still: Custom-designed copper still
  • Base: Two-row barley (That’s it. Nothing else.)
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled
  • Spirit: Natural color and non-chill filtered

So there you have it – one whisky, three distinctive experiences!

What else did we sample in our Shelter Point 2018 Edition evenings?

Interested in more Shelter Point tasting experiences?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask 63.1%

When I spotted this cask strength Chichibu in the Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, Tokyo in July 2014, our whisky tasting group had never tried anything from this distillery before. As my quest was to find something ‘different’ and ‘difficult to source’ outside of Japan, a recent release from Ichiro’s Malt seemed to meet the criteria perfectly!

Now, clearly great minds think alike as another Chichibu – specifically the 3 year ‘The Floor Malted‘ – was sourced by another of our whisky tasting members. We sampled it in October 2014 and it could easily hold its own against older whiskies.

So what about this particular whisky? Well… here is where it gets interesting!

Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask

Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask (Whisky Lady)

Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask 63.1%, Cask number 2357, Bottled in 2014

First impression – solo interpretation

Confession time – I lost patience waiting from July 2014 to February 2015 for my next turn to curate our whisky evening… so I cracked open the bottle early and here is what I discovered:

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – A delightful burst of notes – strong sweet vanilla, tropical fruits, overripe banana, a deeper hint of chocolaty mint and cinnamon
  • Palate – Something slightly ‘rancio’, the fruits having an overripe quality, woodsy, a tinge oily and very chewy, the chocolate re-emerging
  • Finish – Spicy, nutty, slightly disappointing – sense of being a bit brash and ‘young’
  • Water? – Most certainly!

Second impression – group effort

Now here is what happened when I shared the same bottle with our intrepid tasters:

  • Nose – Medicinal, sweet perfume but with more depth and fruit than the Chita, pronounced pears, the more it aired the more we discovered – a whiff of grain, warm breeze on grass… then French vanilla… after sipping could smell dark molasses and cinnamon
  • Taste – Immediate sense of an aged whisky bursting with character, had punch, spice, very chewy, leather, bit of brine, woodsy
  • Finish – Coffee, bitter yet warm, hint of nuttiness and dark chocolate
  • Add water – This was definitely one we wanted to add water… Even dryer, woody elements emerged,  almost like eating rose petals, the French vanilla also became even more pronounced
Reactions:
  • Has ‘teeth’ and a ‘bit more alcohol’ than the Chita… perhaps 48%??
  • Also gave the sense of age given its robust character – something to feast on!
  • One suggested it was so chewy you felt like you could eat it!
Unveiling:
  • Very deceptive… absolutely unbelievable that it is cask strength at 63.1%
  • Also had the range and depth one would expect from an older whisky – remarkable it is only 2009 i.e. 5 year
  • I shared had opened it earlier so it had the advantage / disadvantage of a little bit of ‘air’ even before we sampled it together – in this case I believe it was an advantage
  • Overall an impressive whisky

I revisited my solo tasting notes only when writing this post – you can see that much overlapped but also some differences – including the finish.

What is so delightful about having a small group of friends taste together is the different descriptions and reactions. As we taste blind, we are also not influenced by origin, age, packaging, what we may have heard about a particular whisky… or even a previous acquaintance with the same whisky! Only the host knows what we are trying and we take seriously being ‘mum’ to not influence our fellow tasters.

Taste is deeply personal yet I find it tremendously enriching to have company when exploring the world of whisky… and pleased could share something less readily accessible.

Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask

Chichibu 2009 French Oak Cask (Whisky Lady)

We sampled this together with Suntory’s Chita Single Grain Whisky, Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year and Ichiro’s Malt – possibly Houou-uhi in February 2015.

What others are saying:

  • Nonjatta – Brief note on the French Oak Cask and Chibidaru Cask
  • e-Ting – Mentions this release and the very same Isetan Shinjuku where I bought the whisky
  • Whisky Saga – On visiting the Chichibu distillery

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: