Shelter Point 5 Year Old Single Grain Rye 46% alc/vol

April 3, 2012


A complex synthesis of maple sugar, licorice cough drops, ripe black fruits, sweet flowers, and sizzling pepper, painted in oils on an artist’s canvas. ★★★★

Starting a small distillery is always a struggle, and Shelter Point is no different. Still, when partners, Andrew Currie, Jay Oddleifson, and Patrick Evans first set out to distill malt whisky on Evans’ farm near Campbell River B.C. they couldn’t possibly have imagined what lay in store for them. Weathering a dearth of trades people to build the distillery was discouraging. Learning that their custom-crafted copper pot stills had been impounded by zealous U.S. custom authorities was disheartening. And the financial stresses of start-up almost proved fatal when the partnership itself imploded. Finally, however, in June of 2011, with some 300 whisky lovers on hand to witness it, Shelter Point laid down its first barrels of malt whisky.

The partnership question was answered when Evans, along with his wife Kimm assumed full ownership of the operation. James Marinus, who did much of the construction, took on the role of distiller. He did so under the expert tutelage of Scottish distiller, Mike Nicholson. And finally spirit began to flow. The spirit itself? Fruity, clean, and just a tad malty.

But that’s not what we’re tasting today. It will be years before Shelter Point has malt whisky ready to bottle. In the meantime, they have sourced some fine five-year-old, pot-distilled 100% rye whisky which they are bottling on site and have for sale in the gift shop. “When people come to visit us they want to take something back with them,” says Evans. It’s also a good source of cash flow while Shelter Point’s own spirit quietly sleeps.

It’s good stuff this Shelter Point rye, and for Canadian whisky lovers well worth the trek three hours north from Victoria to visit the distillery. As it says on the label: “Shelter Point Distillery takes inspiration from traditional Scotch distilleries. Making a good whisky takes time. While we wait, this single grain Canadian rye whisky has been selected by us for your enjoyment.

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that they take inspiration from Irish distilleries as well, for tucked away at the back of the warehouse are several barrels of pure pot still whisky made in the traditional Irish fashion with malted and unmalted barley combined. It will be a true Celtic celebration when Evans and Marinus finally decide those few barrels are ready to bottle.

A farmer by profession, Evans has plans to grow his own barley and malt it right on the farm. Now that’s what I call a “grain to glass,” “seed to still,” “crop to shop,” “field to flask” operation!

Nose: maple sugar, burlap sacs, plasticine, hard rye, dry grain, dried fruit and hints of sweet solvents. Quite complex. A generic fruitiness turns to apple cider and red cherries, then floral notes of rose water and vague lilacs sweeten into icing sugar.

Palate: Earthy, very hot, citrusy and rich in tones of linseed oil and canvas. Sourish licorice root, ripe black fruits, black Smith’s Brothers cough drops, a lovely bitter pithiness, subtle sweetness, and tingling spices.

Finish: Longish, peppery.

Empty Glass: Caramel, dry firewood, and cinnamon hearts.

Highly recommended. ★★★★

$39,00 at the distillery only. Quantities are limited.


5 Responses to “Shelter Point 5 Year Old Single Grain Rye 46% alc/vol”

  1. Chris Brown:

    Now that’s an empty glass worth nosing the next day! (I stumbled on the morning after glass by accident a couple of years ago and I highly recommend it as an exercise in the evolution of a spirit from start to finish).

    What are they selling a bottle for?

    • Davin:

      You know, i forgot to ask. I’ll drop them a line.

      And they responded that it available at the distillery only, in limited quantities, for $39.00.

      • Chris Brown:

        All that and 46%, what’s not to like? I’ll have to drop by next time I’m on the island.

        It’s rare to get the opportunity to know the distiller from the start -you Easterner’s have John Hall at Forty Creek, let’s hope they can create the same magic here on the West Coast!

  2. CBrown:

    Finally got a chance to try the SP 5 and have to say I’m not a fan. I’d hoped that it would still have that youthful character that young ryes have but this was harsh and generally not too interesting.

    I’d be curious to know how/why they sourced this particular batch as a place-holder until their own product is ready to sell.
    Since there must be a lot of product out there to be sourced was this the profile they wanted? Or did they have a budget they had to stick too? Or did they want something their own whiskey would walk all over when released?
    I’ll never know of course but I still wonder….

  3. Elaine Gallagher:

    I purchased 10 bottles of Shelter Point whisky (2017) with my whisky club and now find I am not enjoying whisky!!! What a shame as this is a remarkable product. I am willing to sell these to anyone in the Victoria area for $40 a bottle. Call me at 250-812-0002 if interested.

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