Welcome to Shelter Point Farm & Distillery
Established in 2011, Shelter Point Distillery is located on 380 acres in Oyster River, BC, about halfway up the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Farmed for generations, Shelter Point remains one of the last seaside farms on the Island. We are naturally blessed with the key ingredients of exceptional handcrafted artisanal spirits: fertile fields to grow our barley, a large underground aquifer to provide naturally filtered water and crisp sea air compliments of the Salish Sea. Add in our skilled craftspeople, traditional Scottish distilling methods and state-of-art facility, and the result is a world-class distillery on the West Coast of Canada.
Our long history & bright future
The owner of Shelter Point Distillery is Patrick Evans, a third-generation farmer whose family members were turn of the 20th century pioneers in the Comox Valley. In 2005, Patrick and his family purchased what was once a research farm from the University of British Columbia, part of which was originally owned by his grandfather. The move allowed Patrick and his family to implement their “farmpreneur” vision – one where farming could coexist with wildlife, humans, farming and commerce. Together with Operations Manager James Marinus and a hand-picked team, Patrick has created products that have already placed Shelter Point Distillery on the world stage.
Our land & how we steward it
Our 380 acres of land encompasses 2,000 metres of spectacular oceanfront, a natural mosaic of streams, a salmon-bearing river, wetlands, forests and fields — all shared with native wildlife, from bald eagles and great blue herons to blacktailed deer and black bears.
We have implemented an environmental farm/habitat enhancement plan designed to create a living tapestry of the individual components within the property, including soil capabilities, wetlands, farm buildings and forested lands and creeks: all aspects of the farm that influence and interact with each other.
Our plan will also allow old creeks on the farm to become fish-bearing once again and, by reestablishing ancient oxbows and wetlands, we hope to encourage the return of natural species and migratory waterfowl.
We do not plow or cultivate the soils. Instead, we use a heavy-duty grain seeder that cuts through the previous year’s stubble, opening up the ground with a round disc and allowing new seed to be dropped in the soil and then covered for germination.
We over-seed harvested fields with winter wheat, rye or winter peas to increase the organic matter in the soil and rebuild the soil naturally. This action also benefits the many visiting waterfowl who overwinter on the farm, and minimizes the potential of soil erosion during winter rains. On some fields, we also apply a heavy spring application of compost or manure.
Our artisanal approach & equipment
We are truly and naturally an artisanal distillery. Right from the start, our approach has been: prioritizing quality over quantity, coexisting with nature and sourcing locally. This local-first philosophy extends beyond just building materials. In fact, we are one of only a handful of distilleries that grow their own barley and distill on the same site. (Virtually the only things that aren’t local are our oak barrels and massive copper pot stills – more on these below.)
As far as our methodology goes, well, when you wait five years for a whisky to mature, you can’t help but learn to be patient. As a result, nothing is particularly hurried here. We took our time to get the distillery right, and we’re doing the same with everything else.
A whisky’s flavour and quality are determined by a number of things, but the three main factors are the barley, the water and the unique attributes of the equipment. To put it mildly, we are ‘equipped for quality’. To ensure we can create a premium quality spirit, we went to the source to acquire our copper pot stills. Forsyths of Rothes are the recognized experts — they supply many of the major distilleries in Scotland. And we use American oak barrels, hand-selected from Kentucky Bourbon producers.
Aging takes place within a few hundred yards of the ocean, which imparts a wonderfully unique flavour to the whisky. The whole process is fascinating, and the distillery has been specially constructed so visitors can tour the facility and get an up-close view of the process and the final product.
Our eco-gift: The Bear Creek Nature Park
When we purchased our land in 2005, it consisted of 1350 metres of frontage along the Oyster River, as well as an active salmon hatchery. Due to the ecological significance of this section of the river, it was an easy decision for us to “eco-gift” the majority of the property to Ducks Unlimited.
Ducks Unlimited Canada is a leader in Canadian habitat conservation. They are renowned for conserving, restoring and managing wetlands and grasslands to benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people.
The donation was certified as an Ecological gift under the Ecological Gifts program administered by Environment Canada. Under the eco-gift designation, the property must meet criteria of significant ecological value. Bear Creek Nature Park protects a portion of floodplain and wetland along the Oyster River which provides important habitat for fish and wildlife. The upland second growth forest buffers the floodplain/wetland and the river.
Natural features of the park include:
- Trees: big-leaf maple, black cottonwood, western hemlock, douglas-fir, sitka spruce, red alder and western red cedar
- Shrubs: salmonberry, snowberry, sword fern, elderberry and oregon grape. vanilla leaf and red huckleberry.
- Wildlife: Common park mammals include black-tail deer, black bear and beaver. Along the river and wetlands watch for belted kingfisher, great blue heron, wood duck, hooded merganser and bufflehead duck. Noted forest birds are the varied thrush and downy woodpecker.
The Oyster River Enhancement Society operates a fish hatchery for coho, chum, pink and chinook salmon along the river floodplain.
Complimentary tours & tastings
As you probably know by now, we make small batches of artisan whisky and vodka. Last year, our Single Malt Whisky won a Gold Medal at the World Whisky Masters in London England. Our new releases are already getting rave reviews.
If you think we’d go to all the trouble of building what is only the second single malt distillery in Canada without showing it off, you’d clearly be mistaken. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved and are eager to have you see and taste the fruits of our labour.
Tours and tastings are free (yes, free). Tours happen Wednesday to Sunday from 12 noon to 5pm. Tastings are available 7 days a week from 12 noon to 5pm. Private tours are available too – please contact us for more information.
Once you’ve been here and done that, of course, you’ll need to get the t-shirt… or the hat or the glass. For that, you’re welcome to visit our fully stocked gift shop. Our gift shop is also open 7 days a week from 12 noon to 5pm.
Oh Canada! If you haven't cottoned on to what's happening here, now is the time.
-- Rob Allanson, Whisky Magazine
It's a delight to drink and makes you want more.
-- Rob Allanson, Whisky Magazine
If we tasted this without knowing it was a Canadian single malt, we’d likely guess it was a Highland Scotch. Very nice malt.
-- Toronto Whisky Society
Best-in-Category: Shelter Point Single Malt 2017 Distiller's Select
-- Toronto Whisky Society
It is one of those whiskies that just got better and better the more you sipped.
-- Carissa Hickling, Whisky Lady
Defies my expectations for a newer craft single malt distiller out of Canada.
-- Josh Peters, The Whisky Jug
Frankly I was blown away that I was about to give such a young whisky such a great note... you should be watching Shelter Point like a hawk.
-- TOModera, Toronto Whisky Society
A profile all its own, one you wouldn't mistake for Scotch or American single malt, but recalling good things from both, and very tasty in its own right.
-- Axis of Whiskey
Another world-class single malt made right here in Canada.
-- Canadian Whiskey News
It may in fact be my favourite whisky of the whole calendar so far. Shelter Point, I’m coming over.
-- Peter Vetsch, Pop and Pour
More than a nice discovery, I think I found a new regular bottle in my collection!
-- Dominic Drapeau, Facebook
I believe that this is the best single malt whisky in Canada!
-- J Han, Facebook
Beautiful and amazing both the Distillery and the product.
-- Adrian King, Facebook
Great product, great flavour whisky. Field to flask all ingredients off the farm, 100 mile diet just got better.
-- Norm McGregor, Facebook
Is there a higher rating than excellent? ... The place is beautiful and you will learn so much about the art of whisky making and the influence nature has on the product.
-- Lori T, TripAdvisor
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Tours & tastings
Drop in, do some tasting, take a tour or visit the gift shop to get some 'spirited gifts' to enjoy at home.