Shelter Point Distillery won a slate of national whisky awards last week, including one for a spirit made entirely with unmalted barley grown at the producer’s farm in Oyster River.
The award of excellence for innovation, along with a gold medal, went to Shelter Point’s Montfort District Lot 141, made with grain from its farm. Distillery manager Jacob Wiebe was pleased to see the “seed-to-spirit” product recognized at the Canadian Whisky Awards.
“We do all the farming, so it’s really rewarding for us,” Wiebe said. “We were planting all the barley, harvesting all the barley.”
Wiebe said he got his start with the company working on the farm five years ago. Owner Patrick Evans, head distiller James Marinus and he do all the field work, he said.
“It’s truly a field-to-flask type of product,” Wiebe said.
Leon Webb, who recently joined the company as distiller, blended together all of last year’s whiskies, and picked out each cask, he said.
The practice of using grain grown onsite isn’t new, but it’s uncommon in B.C. because most distilleries are urban, he said.
“It’s more of a common practice in the older Scotland style, the older scotches,” he said. “There’s a lot of farm distilleries out there, so that’s sort of what we modelled ourselves after, was your traditional Scotch-style distillery.”
The bottle also notes the latitude and longitude for the lot where the barley for the liquor was grown.
“We have the ability to track which district lot all of the barley we grew came from,” Wiebe said.
The company also received silver medals for the Strath Edition of its Classic Single Malt and its Double Barreled Single Malt – the latter was finished for 1,993 hours in pinot noir casks from Quails’ Gate, a winery in the Okanagan, Wiebe said.
Bronze medals went to the company’s Avant-Garde Barley, Cask Strength and Classic Single Malt whiskies.
The honours were announced at the Canadian Whisky Awards on Jan. 17 at the Hotel Grand Pacific as part of the Victoria Whisky Festival.
The ninth annual awards event involved blind tastings of more than 100 whiskies by 10 independent whisky experts, according to a media release.
Whiskies have to be distilled and matured in Canada to qualify in the competition, an event that’s operated on a not-for-profit basis and “fully independent of the Canadian whisky industry,” the release said.