I am fortunate enough to live within driving distance of one of the only Distilleries on Vancouver Island, Shelter Point Distillery, in Black Creek British Columbia near Campbell River. About five months ago they started a Whisky Club and started doing tastings once a month. I have always wanted to attend but timing never seemed to work out. This month they decided to host an Irish Whiskey tasting in honour of St. Patrick’s Day. As the luck o’ Irish would have it…. I was able to go!
I don’t have a lot of experience with Irish Whiskey, so I thought I would use this tasting as guide to help me choose a bottle to share with Greg (The Scholar), when visiting the Sunshine Coast this weekend.
The tasting was hosted by Leon Webb of Shelter Point Distillery and, as with everything they do, it was top shelf! The nights tasting consisted of 4 whiskies done completely blind. We were instructed to sample the whiskies, make tasting notes, rate and rank them from 1 to 4. At that point he revealed the whiskies. I found most of them quite hard to drink. They had a very woody, grainy roughness to them. I was surprised by this because they were all triple distilled which is supposed to make it more drinkable. The thought of “The fighting Irish” kept creeping into my thoughts when trying to describe these spirits. They were certainly fighters! The seasoned whisky drinker/connoisseur beside me was getting quite frustrated with not being able to fine a smooth dram in the lot. Once revealed, this was the order in which I had them ranked. #4- Teeling Whiskey Small Batch finished in Rum casks, #3- Redbreast 15 year Single Pot Still matured in Oak casks and also the most expensive whiskey of the night, #2- Jameson Black Barrel double charred casks for rich smooth taste and, my favourite Irish Whiskey of the night, #1- Writer’s Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey.
The best part of the night was at the end when they starting pouring their own whisky which was made on site. I sampled their signature single malt, cask strength and Lot 141, which is an un-malted whisky made from barley grown on their beautiful 60-acre location by-the-sea. All 3 spirits were amazingly smooth and sweet (even the un-malted). My wife Brandy, who is not whisky drinker, even fell in love with a cocktail created by Brian who is Shelter Point’s “Spirit Guide”, called “The Lynchpin”. This is a mix of Shelter Point Single Malt and their Orange, maple syrup liqueur “Sunshine”.
So, I guess, what I have taken from these events are two things. The first being, that although it’s an exciting time for the Irish Whiskey Industry, they haven’t won this Blue Collar over yet. The second being, I will be going back to Shelter Point Distillery for more incredible experiences!