BMC “shabby chic” evening

Date juggling with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen can be a challenge as we all travel extensively and, let’s face it, have busy lives!

So when one member could not join our originally scheduled August date, we decided to shift from a planned tasting of curated closed bottles to pulling out something open from our whisky cabinets to share.

As they didn’t earlier have the pleasure of trying Shelter Point – yet heard so much from all my past experiences – I decided it was time they experience – even if oxidized dregs!

And yes – the plan was to bring just one but when there was so little left, how could I resist bringing all four?

While there were other bottles on offer, here is what I recall:

As for the cigars, it was a revisit of Gurka Seduction, also from an earlier session.

I must confess I took narry a photo nor tasting note that evening – what I’ve shared here are mere recollections of impressions rather than specifics.

This was an evening where we simply came together, sipped our drams, planned our upcoming sessions and September Scottish whisky tour with the whiskies taking a supporting role rather than featured cast.

Which sometimes is exactly what you ask of a good dram – to be the best possible accompaniment to a rather enjoyable time with friends.

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Shelter Point Cask Strength (2018) 58.7%

Last in our Shelter Point quartet from BC, Canada was their 2018 Cask Strength expression. Travelling from the west coast of Canada to Manitoba, the Manitoba to Maharashtra India, this quartet was a gift from the distillery to our Mumbai based tasting groups.

First up was the Whisky Ladies, followed by the Original tasting group and then for the last remaining drops an informal evening with a couple friends.

Here is what the Whisky Ladies had to say…

Shelter Point Artisanal Cask Strength (2018) 58.7%

  • Nose – Farm sweet, unripe avocado, smooth, citrus and camomile
  • Palate – Fruity with a bit of spice, some ginger, smooth, bright
  • Finish – Star anise, long and sweet
  • Water – We debated about this – to add or not. In the end those that did add were a bit disappointed whereas those who kept it water free, continued to enjoy their whisky full strength

Overall, what did we think? We found it quite sophisticated, we loved its character and sheer joyfulness. There was also a nice spiciness too that gave it a terrific kick.

We revisited it after some time and found it was full of sugar icing, vanilla, baking goodies and a tasty vanilla milkshake. Yum!

And then two weeks later with our original Mumbai group?

  • Nose – Some lovely classic notes that comes with a proper cask strength, complex, honey sweet, grape or linseed oil, perfume vanilla, sweet bubble gum, maple sugar cookies, red twizzlers, hair oil
  • Palate – Sweet and spice – one remarked how it is the distinctive Rye spice, a bit earthy, and at the centre – yum! Almost yolky
  • Finish – Just like the nose – fruity…

This one had the most diverse aromas… not an easy whisky, yet endearingly “cheerful” amidst its complexity and layers.

And a further revisit with a few friends a few days later was a different experience:

  • Nose – It began with a kicking spice, lots more “whisky”, then coconut marzipan, effervescent
  • Palate – Spices, quite “manly” with a bitter walnut, nougat, again a distinctly “rye” element but very balanced
  • Finish – Had a nice “oomph!”, black pepper, a bit bitter

We found the whisky kept changing the more it was in the glass, quite quixotic, teasing… so we decided to add water. Wow!

  • Nose – Toasted coconut, lime, lavender, herbal, flowers
  • Palate – Dark grapes, marmalade, chocolate
  • Finish – Heightened the bitter chewy quality chased with a hint of salt

Confession time?

I started to think of a quintessentially Canadian bar beverage made with Canadian “Rye” whiskey (aka a blend with a generous element of rye) and ginger ale. And while I was never a “Rye and Ginger” gal, I found myself pulling the bottle out of the whisky cabinet, pouring a generous dram, throwing a few large chunks of ice into the glass and topping with a healthy splash of cold ginger ale. Delicious!

The folks over at Shelter Point shared:

To create this limited edition cask strength whisky, we selected two casks of triple-distilled unmalted Shelter Point barley and combined these with two casks of rye, creating an incredibly rich and spicy whisky. Decadent, complex and intense, this blend will surprise you with layer after layer of flavour.

  • Shelter Point Cask Strength Whisky is fragrant on the nose with apricots, rum raisins and sticky toffee pudding.
  • The palate is sweet and warming with candied ginger, nougat, honey blossom and pineapple.
  • The satisfying finish is incredibly long with an assortment of spices, cherry wood and salt.

Whisky Facts:

  • Still: Custom-designed copper pot still
  • Base: 50% unmalted barley and 50% rye
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 3x distilled
  • Spirit: Natural colour and non-chill filtered
  • Alcohol Content: Bottled at 58.7% Alc.Vol

Bottom line? It absolutely works!

Here is what else we tried in our Shelter Point 2018 Quartet, courtesy of the cool cats over at the distillery:

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“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?

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“Curious” – Shelter Point Montfort District Lot 141 Single Grain (2018) 46%

Something you really do need to know about Shelter Point distillery from BC, Canada is when they say “field to flask”, they really do mean it. The grow their own barley on their farm with this particular expression named after the lot:

Raised right here on our family farm on Vancouver Island, Montfort District Lot 141 is a truly unique field-to-flask whisky. The name itself is the very lot in which the single-grain barley was grown, and the coordinates to the exact field are included on every bottle. Distilled in our traditional copper pot stills, aged in American oak and French oak at our oceanfront warehouses, and bottled on-site by the Shelter Point family, Montfort DL 141 is a proud product of our distillery home.

I was so enthusiastic about our 2018 edition Shelter Point quartet that I arranged to share it with our Whisky Ladies, our original Mumbai tasting group and other enthusiasts…

Here is what we discovered! Starting with the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai when the bottle was freshly opened…

Shelter Point Montfort District Lot 141 Single Grain (2018) 46%

  • Nose – Lots of fruits, sour mash, “barnyard funk” not in a bad way, just very rustic, like a dusty granary. Then chocolate mousse, cider, grape… with the aromas continuing to evolve… an unmistakable juicy fruit, gummy bears and dried tropical fruits
  • Palate – An odd sweetness, grape mash, becoming even sweeter, the oak is also there, a creamy or buttery quality
  • Finish – Limited
  • Water – Surprising how much it opened it up, yet also became less layered in the aromas

There was no doubt that the aroma was the most complex element… a few remarked how it was a shift after the beautiful Artisanal Single Malt.

A few weeks later, our original Mumbai tasting group had a chance to sample:

  • Nose – Benedryl, lots of cherry cough syrup, sweetened berries, cut green apple, tempered from earlier, single mono note, sweetest fruit, milk chocolate
  • Palate – Chocolate fudge, coconut “Bounty” candy bar, good body, cream
  • Finish – Short

More like a liqueur than a whisky… Shelter Point shares that the grain came from a single field. Yet we had lots of speculation about what the grain could be – was it barley that was unmalted? Or something else…? And what casks were used to achieve that berries and chocolate cream combination?

Then a revisit with friends familiar with Shelter Point whiskies soon after that:

  • Nose – Raw husk, bourbon-like, honey, faint liquorice, purple grape
  • Palate – At first so different than the aroma, heavy spice, sweet, farm like… Next sip was completely consistent with the nose – the light liquorice very much there, same with the purple grape
  • Finish – A fennel herbal finish with spice

This one requires a bit of effort. Particularly after the delightful Artisanal Single Malt, this Shelter Point is a definite contrast. Curious, challenging… one that takes patience to unravel. Yet worth taking time and feel privileged to have sampled.

As for the folks over at Shelter Point have to say?

  • Tasting notes: On the nose, Montfort DL 141 has distinct notes of vanilla fudge, dried fruits and hazelnut. The palate is honied and herbaceous with a luxurious assortment of dark chocolate cherries, leading to a warming spicy finish, with lingering oak and almond nougat.
  • Still: Custom-designed copper pot still
  • Base: 100% unmalted barley (That’s it. Nothing else)
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 3x distilled
  • Spirit: Natural colour and non-chill filtered

It also won the best Canadian grain in the World Whiskies Award 2019 having this to say:

“Floral and honey nose, orchard fruits and peaches with a light toffee colour. Spice, but very well balanced. The palate brings in green wood and flavours of baking spices, coconut and marmalade. Smooth and buttery in the mouth. Medium finish.”

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

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“Sheer joy!” – Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt 46%

We kicked off our Shelter Point evening with the “foundation” expression – their Artisanal Single Malt.

This was our third opportunity to try Shelter Point’s single malt – from their very 1st batch in 2016, to their next edition in 2017 – loved them both! And hoped against hope would not be disappointed with their latest avatar.

Spoiler alert! This one was dubbed “sheer joy!” for its delightfully happy aromas.

Unlike some tasting sessions where notes come only from one sitting, this time I’ve divided the experience into three to reflect each sitting – both to capture the influences and perspectives shared by different tasting groups plus slight shifts in whisky itself – going from sealed to open for a month and a half.

First up was the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai who had this to say:

Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt (2018) 46%

  • Nose – Honey sweet, floral and fruit, sunshine, vanilla cream, a hint of chocolate, a beautiful desert, bubblegum
  • Palate – Initially a nice zing, sugar sweet, ginger… then begins to mellow, even a bit of hazelnut and marzipan
  • Finish – Pleasant with a nice bit of bitter orange
  • Water – Rounds it out

Such a happy whisky… we could just keep coming back to it and enjoy its delicious honeyed aromas.

And then our original Mumbai group two weeks later found:

  • Nose – Greeted us with pears, apples, friendly yet with a prickly spice. Loads of honey, some hay… what one described as a “green malt”. Truly it had a beautiful bouquet, while uncomplicated with a narrow aroma, it was lovely, like a fresh meadow
  • Palate & Finish – Liquid honey, delicious and quite enjoyable but for some it seemed to dash away rather than hang about… where as for others, there was a clear finish with lots of pepper, slightly bitter in an interesting contrast to the very sweet nose

One joked that from initial palate to finish it was like having honey and crushed black peppercorns on a single spoon! No great depth, uncomplicated yet easy to enjoy. One to return to…

Then a small informal tasting a couple weeks later with lasses who had tried both earlier 2016 and 2017 editions:

  • Nose – Sheer happiness, amiable, warm baked apples, warm summer day, fresh mowed lawn, sweet sunshine
  • Palate – Not a pushover on the palate, more “oomph!” than we remember from the earlier batches, yet still completely delicious, warm spice, buttercup, butter tart
  • Finish – There but…

We discussed how this is one of those whiskies you simply enjoy – hard to pick apart or describe exactly why you love it so much, but it is just so darn “nice”… bottom line? We pronounced it “sheer joy” in liquid form!

While there is no age statement, we understand the whisky is matured for five years in American oak ex-bourbon barrels and it shows.

As for the folks over at Shelter Point? This is what they have to say:

  • Tasting Notes: An enticing nose of vanilla, coconut, caramel and tropical fruits. The palate provides a delectable melody of juicy fruits and candied sweets, leading to a tantalising finish of spice, malt chocolate and a hint of salt.
  • Still: Custom-designed copper pot still
  • Base: 100% malted barley (That’s it. Nothing else)
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled
  • Spirit: Natural colour and non-chill filtered

We had the pleasure of sampling the entire 2018 range, courtesy of the folks at Shelter Point who kindly sent it from British Columbia to my family in Manitoba which I then brought back to Mumbai in February 2019.

Interested in the other Shelter Point 2018 editions? Check out our tasting notes:

Curious about our other brushes with Shelter Point?

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Shelter Point’s 2018 Whisky Quartet

I will admit to a certain bias… there is a good bit of Canadian pride at work when it comes to my experience with Shelter Point. However just because I think their single malt is the best to come out of Canada – sheer happiness in a bottle – doesn’t mean others do too.

Which is exactly I chose to do three rounds with this quartet which came courtesy of the lads over at Shelter Point – first with the Whisky Ladies then a couple weeks later with our original Mumbai tasting group and finally with a couple friends familiar with earlier editions from the distillery.

And what did we have an opportunity to try?

Shelter Point 2018 Quartet

The whiskies were complements of the Shelter Point distillery – shipped from BC to my folks in Manitoba then brought back to India on a recent trip to Canada in February 2019. We opened them in Mumbai late February 2019 with tastings that continued to late March 2019.

I was particularly thrilled to see the Artisanal Single Malt is now available in Manitoba for an exceedingly reasonable price of CND 67 (that’s less than US $50).

Just click on the links of the specific whiskies to read our collective tasting notes.

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Context is everything… Discovering your Daily Dram

I must admit that normally, I drink whisky only during tasting sessions… where my palate preferences are pre-primed for a range of sensations and kinds of whiskies. I can fully get behind a peaty punch same as a rich sherry bomb or a full-on cask strength dram. Curve balls are welcome. Even something that isn’t ‘good’ but pushes the boundaries or introduces a new experience is given a chance.

But a funny little thing has started to happen.

As we worked at emptying the various ‘nearly done’ bottles as part of the whisky ‘house cleaning‘, I realized that for simple enjoyment, my preference has turned to primarily ex-bourbon, more nuanced and dare I say it? Accessible drams.

When did that occur??

It seems for me at least, context is everything. And when the context isn’t a tasting session – structured and formal, or impromptu and casual – I’ve veered away from inviting those crazy outliers and gravitated instead towards something simpler.

Perfectly hitting that “preferred style” dram was Shelter Point’s Single Malt – 1st Batch from 2016. Which repeated a year later with the next batch. Awaiting a chance to grab the next to meet this “sweet spot”!

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Shelter Point 2017 Winter Release 57.2%

My love affair with Shelter Point from Vancouver Island continues… courtesy of a fellow Canadian from British Columbia who picked this bottle up on a recent jaunt from Vancouver to Mumbai.

Here is what we thought…

Photo: Paula McGlynn

Shelter Point Cask Strength 2017 Winter Release 57.2% (Bottle 594/1088)

  • Nose – Lots of sweet cereals, heavy honey, toasted nuts, a bit of spicy chilli, honey comb, started to take on quite a fruity dimension – warm, ripe summer fruits, honey drizzled oats or barley, lightly floral shifting back into warm freshly baked pie
  • Palate – Sooooooo good! A happy whisky with a nice kick… one that we were simply too busy enjoying to dissect the different elements of the palate… all I can recall is the lovely baked goods, light cinnamon, apples continued…
  • Finish – Very long, a bit ‘tingly’ with a hint of sweet grass
  • Water – You can, makes it even more “happy” yet it also isn’t needed either

It reminded us of a Canadian summer night – after the heat of the day, a slight drop in temperature, a light breeze, the smell of sunshine fading into sunset with warm grasses, fruits and a hint of honeyed flowers.

What I loved most is it had that “Let me wrap you up in a warm welcoming blanket” quality – just more pronounced with more kick and character than the standard Single Malt at 46%.

As always, the biggest problem with Shelter Point is it is simply far too inviting and has a dangerously bad habit of “disappearing” quickly in happy consumption!

I was curious to know more so wrote to the folks over at Shelter Point. Here is what distiller Leon Webb had to say:

Cask Strength 2017:

  • Nose: An enticing aroma of candied sweets and creamy treats, lattice apple pie with vanilla custard and homemade ice cream, candy floss, praline chocolates, hazelnut and a hint of white pepper
  • Palate: Sweet and juicy fruits, honey, pecan pie, brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Finish: Rum raisins and sweet tobacco 

Shelter Point Cask Strength Whisky 2017 Facts:

  • Base: Two-row barley and rye
  • Distillation: Small-batch, 2x distilled and non-chilled filtered
  • Alcohol Content: Bottled at 57.2% Alc.Vol
  • Bottle Size: 750ml
  • Batch Size: 1088 bottles
  • Packaging: Classic Tennessee-style bottle features Vinolok glass closure and original engraving of Shelter Point Farm created by renowned illustrator Steve Noble

Here are a few other Shelter Point’s sampled til date:

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Minis – Shelter Point Double Barrelled 50%

Ever since a whisky sampling companion picked up this Shelter Point mini in BC, I’ve been ridiculously impatient to try it. My previous experience with Shelter Point has been very positive – there is something just so enjoyable about their single malt that is simply comforting – the exact dram you want to settle down and relax with.

And this one? Just like our other minis, it plays with a finish… in this case quite unique – after maturing in French oak casks, it was finished in a blackberry wine from Coastal Black Estate Winery near Mount Washington in the Comox valley on Vancouver Island. I was last in the area for a cousin’s wedding and can attest to it being a truly beautiful part of Canada.

And while I’ve never had their blackberry wine, I couldn’t wait to try what it did to this Shelter Point whisky.

Shelter Point Double Barrelled 50%

  • Nose – Wow! Blackberry compote, black wine gummy, light spice, a cassis kir, nice dark berry, almost like a rich port, with a bit of sourness too. Very interesting, juicy fruity without being overly sweet with a very natural quality, jammy, fermented barley sugars, a bit dusty like a granary, creamy, salted caramel banana, peanut brittle, vanilla
  • Palate – Spice cinnamon bark, while has character it was quite linear from palate to finish, some light sweet fruit
  • Finish – A simple yet nice black raspberry finish that just gentle rides off into the sunset
  • Water – While there is a more character without water, it is good to try with… the water dampens down the nose. As it settled the berries came out even more… just needed a bit of coaxing. Really quite nice, softer and  revealing that wonderful “enveloping you like a comfortable blanket” quality which makes Shelter Point so enjoyable

We set it aside and returned to chocolate chips, a wonderful mandarin or clementine perfumed orange.

And what do the folks at Shelter Point have to say?

Our first Double Barreled Whisky is a special collaboration with Vancouver Island’s Coastal Black Estate Winery. We hand-selected two of our best Single Malt Whisky casks and finished them in two French Oak wine barrels, previously home to Coastal Black’s Blackberry Wine. Aged in our American Oak for six years, and then finished for 1126 hours in the flavourful French Oak, Shelter Point Double Barreled Whisky is a sensational marriage of spirits.

  • A nose of brandied bananas, sweet toffee and caramel, with a marvelous hint of lemon sherbet and tobacco leaf.
  • Salted caramel continues to the palate alongside golden treacle and a dash of white pepper.
  • With water you can find youth in Jolly Rancher sweets, cola, and a creamy vanilla finish.

Our fabulous finishes minis eve included:

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Minis with fabulous finishes – Glen Scotia, Nomad, Shelter Point

Believe it or not, we had a problem of plenty… lots of different minis to potentially explore picked up our several trips.

A tasting companion neatly organized into different possible sets and the one we elected to try was whiskies with finishes… we initially planned to sample four but in the end we were content with just these three:

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