I’ve been to a few Shelter Point Whisky Club tastings over the past few months and each time I walk away thinking, “How could the amazing staff at the distillery possibly top this experience next time?” And each time they somehow manage to do just that. Last night’s tasting event was a very special one indeed. Up till now, all the tastings have been held in the distilleries main building, which is a beautiful timber frame post and beam structure with tasteful and comfortable décor. Last night’s function, however, was in the warehouse. This is where the “magic” happens and really speaks to a blue collar because; it’s also where a lot sweat happens. This is where they store the spirits and age them to perfection in 200 litre casks. To maximize space they are constantly moving, shuffling and stacking these massive, mostly ex-bourbon, casks. This brings us to the theme of the night….Wood.
We were transported to the warehouse from the main building via all-terrain vehicles. It was a short drive through the 60 acres of beautiful green barley fields. When we arrived at the warehouse we were piped into the tasting area by my good friend Brian Shaw, who is a local piper that is helping me organize the Campbell River Highland Gathering in August. We sat down and the master distiller, Leon Webb, gave us his welcome speech and we were off to the races. It was, once again, a blind tasting with 4 whiskies. We got to work nosing and sampling. We then made notes, guesses and ranked the spirts from 1 to 4. Leon then revealed to us the mystery expressions.
My number 4 and least favourite was The Glenlivet Nadurra. In Gaelic Nadurra means “natural”. This cask strength whisky is matured in first fill American white oak casks and is non-chill filtered with no colour added. Despite this being my least favourite of the night, I give The Glenlivet distillery credit for creating a more traditional spirit than what they are commonly known for.
My number 3 selection of the evening was The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 year old. This whisky is extra matured in Rum casks which gives is a sweet flavour.
My number 2 selection was almost my number 1 selection but then a second sip and I changed my mind last minute. Aberlour A’bunadh Cask Strength is fully matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry Butts. This Sherry Bomb is deep, rich, full flavoured and has so much to offer. I think I will be adding this one to my “must have” list.
My number 1 selection was, what I like to call, a curve ball. Compass Box Spice Tree Blended Malt Scotch Whisky….yes…that’s right…Blended. Up until now, I haven’t really given blended whiskies a second glance but this non-chill filtered, no colour added spirit has been matured in virgin French oak casks and may have changed my mind about blended whiskies.
That was the end of the tasting for all intents and purposes and I found myself thinking, once again, “How are they going to top this?” But, somehow, I think they will. Thanks again to everyone at Shelter Point Whisky Club for the incredible experience
Slainte! Blue Collar