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Issue 90 - A sense of determination

Whisky Magazine Issue 90
September 2010


This article is 7 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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A sense of determination

Davin de Kergommeaux undertakes the great Western Canadian distillery challenge

ou have to be a determined traveller to visit even the most famous western Canadian distilleries on this itinerary. So what if the west is where rum-running fortunes were made and lost and where vast expanses of “small prairie grains” – the essential ingredient of Canadian whisky – continue to flourish. Some secrets are not for sharing and these days, getting inside a Canadian distillery can be as challenging as clearing security at an airport. Even so, some gems are worth the effort.

Shelter Point, for example sits snug on its 1,746-acre, ocean-front farm in Vancouver Island's Comox Valley. This brand new farm distillery welcomes visitors year round. Distiller emeritus, Mike Nicholson, brings skills from his time as manager of Lagavulin as he begins trial runs in two copper pot stills imported from Forsyth's of Rothes. By next harvest, Shelter Point will malt its own barley in a custom-designed drum malting machine. Distinctly Scottish in character (but without pagoda) Shelter Point is the brainchild of Arran Distillery's Andrew Currie, along with two local partners.

Victoria is surprisingly warm and sunny in January and visitors to the annual Victoria Whisky Festival charity weekend (January 21-23, 2011) are greeted with vivid displays of bright spring flowers.

But after a three-hour, 140 mile trip “up island” from Victoria to Shelter Point, sports-minded visitors also have a chance to rent snowshoes, skis, or snowboards (lessons included) at Mount Washington...

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