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 in this Vancouver Island distillery.
Like its Hand-Foraged Botanical Gin.
Rich with juniper, citrus and floral flavours and crafted to perfection, the gin is distilled in small batches. Bold and distinctive, the few ingredients that can’t be hand-foraged at their own farm just south of Campbell River are sourced from the finest locations, complemented by pure spring water from a glacier-fed aquifer located directly beneath their land.
(Of course, in Leon Webb, one of Shelter Point’s two distillers, they also have a “spirited rockstar” – among his creations is Victoria’s famously purple Empress Gin.)
In Shelter Point’s Hand-Foraged Botanical Gin, bottled at 46% Alc.Vol, aficionados enjoy a balanced body of citrus, then a beautiful marriage of delicate spices, before a warming spicy finish.
The gin is in an elegant, slim-line bottle with natural wood closure – the perfect gift for the gin lover.
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.”
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.
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.
READ MORE: Raise Your Glass: Award-winning spirits, handcrafted on Vancouver Island