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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“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?

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“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.

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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:

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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?

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Whisky Ladies “Not your ordinary North American” whiskey – Shelter Point, Westland + AD Laws

Our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai are no strangers to North American whiskey… we’ve had other evenings checking out offerings from both Canada and the US.

What distinguished this evening is that we eschewed big brands to opt for newer  players…ad-laws

What did we try?

shelter-point

Other American themed evenings:

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2016 Whisky Thank You…

Sampling whisky is an expensive habit and one most enjoyable when shared. Rather than brag about brilliant drams, talk about top tipples, I want to start 2017 by saying thank you for those who aided in ways big and small Whisky Lady adventures. Because of you, 2016 resulted in over 200 posts – unbelievable!

Above, Whisky Lady in India is a collective effort – a chronicle of tasting sessions – so thank you fellow Mumbai whisky club members:

  • Our original private group that meets religiously at least 8 times a year on the 3rd Thursday for nearly six years.
  • I’m so proud of our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai – an amazing group of remarkable often unconventional ladies who forge unique paths in their lives… our monthly fellowship over a dram is something I look forward to!
  • And our Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen – you have introduced me not only to some mighty fine whiskies but the world of fine cigars. I still can’t believe I puffed up in smoke a $400 cigar?!

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Thank you also fellow bloggers and whisky aficionados:

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Two very specific thank yous:

  • Keshav – Friend and fellow spirits explorer, who turned an amateur interest into an avocation with The Vault Fine Spirits. I’m so proud of what you have accomplished!
  • Krishna – India’s very own Malt Maniac for generously sharing your insights and select rare samples from your collection… your dedication to the world whisky fabric is inspiring

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Thank you also distillery and industry well wishers who generously share their wares. Specifically:

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We also have global whisky mules who keep us supplied… sourcing interesting whiskies isn’t easy and many a different dram would never make it to our shores without you.

Above all, I would like to thank my partner. While he does not indulge in whisky, he indulges me – every day in small and big ways. Thank you.

For more related updates and activities, check out: