When it comes to artisanal whisky, every element matters.
It’s a truth embraced by Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery, handcrafting unique spirits from their farm just south of Campbell River.
It’s here that Shelter Points craft its 100 per cent Single Malt Whisky. Distilled batch-by-batch in traditional copper pot stills from two-row barley, the whiskey is aged in American oak barrels in their oceanfront warehouse a few hundred yards from the ocean, which imparts a wonderfully unique flavour.
With 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.
Boasting a presentation befitting the craftsmanship of whisky within, the classic Tennessee-style bottle features Vinolok glass closure and original engraving of Shelter Point Farm created by renowned illustrator Steve Noble.
Since barrelling its first batch of whisky in 2011, Shelter Point now produces more than 125,000 litres of spirits each year, including gin, vodka and the superbly named Sunshine in a Barrel Liqueur, and the accolades are rolling in with two gold medal wins recently announced at the 2019 World Whisky Masters.
While Shelter Point Distillery has grown to become one of Canada’s largest producers of single malt whisky in its eight years, there’s much more brewing at this Vancouver Island distillery.
The Shelter Point story
A true family business, owner Patrick Evan is joined by general manager – and son-in-law – Jacob Wiebe on the family farm, where Patrick’s father also once worked this land. Here, on 380 acres of oceanfront property criss-crossed by streams, the Oyster River and wetlands, golden fields of barley and wheat sway in the breeze.
Looking to establish a value-added agriculture, after years of dairy farming, Shelter Point Distillery has offered ample opportunity. “I am a beer drinker myself,” Patrick laughs. “I asked myself, ‘How do you value agriculture to the highest degree?’ Well, one acre of land produces 800 litres of alcohol, or 2,700 bottles of whisky.”
Within the next year or two, Patrick hopes to add malting to the farm, meaning every aspect of production – from seed to spirit – will occur on this land. It will also allow them to add smoked whisky to their repertoire, incorporating true West Coast flavours like maple, driftwood or seaweed.
“When the alcohol goes into the barrels, it’s all exactly the same,” Patrick points out. “But it comes out different from each barrel. Even the wood and history of the tree used in making the barrel will affect the taste.”
Tours & tastings await
With its soaring, timber-trussed roof, gleaming, six-metre-high copper stills and futuristic-looking columns, touring the beautifully designed distillery is reward in itself, but be sure to enjoy a tasting too, a great way to discover your new favourite gin … or vodka, or whisky, or liqueur!
Shelter Point cask purchases: A reward that’s worth the wait
The price of acquiring a cask at Shelter Point may seem daunting at first, at several thousand dollars each, plus taxes and bottling costs, but the investment actually offers a variety of benefits. While the cask ages (for an additional two to three years), those who have invested in it can organize tastings of the spirit directly from their own barrel in Shelter Point’s barrel room. Customized bottling is another unique opportunity, but best of all, is the end price per bottle (minimum of 250 bottles per cask), which is significantly below retail pricing.
So like all good investments, the reward is worth the wait.