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B.C. distillery first in Canada to join prestigious Scotch Malt Whisky Society

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A distillery on Vancouver Island is the first ever in Canada to be welcomed into the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Making a good whisky is a long game, taking years to see the benefits of ones work.

"You make it, you put it in a barrel and you wait," said James Marinus, head distiller at Shelter Point Distillery in Campbell River, B.C.

You let it age for five years, then give it a taste and hope your efforts have paid off. That’s exactly what Shelter Point Distillery began doing in 2011.

"Then five years later, we bottled it and released it," said Marinus.

It was good, just not Scotch whisky good.

"Well, the whisky that we’ve put together in the last few years have been great," said the head distiller.

Marinus is downplaying it, it’s the only Canadian Whisky to ever meet the high standards of the prestigious Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

The club is now exclusively selling a run of Shelter Point’s Single Malt to its members.

"Interestingly enough, Shelter Point didn’t – until a couple of days ago – realize how much of an honour this is," said Adam Bradshaw, whiskey curator at the Strath in downtown Victoria.

Bradshaw says it’s a huge deal that will give the island-based distillery worldwide exposure.

"This is not necessarily about selling more whisky but getting the global recognition of the quality of your whisky," said Bradshaw. "I think that is what is going to start people talking."

Shelter Point Distillery single malt Canadian Whisky is pictured at the Strath in downtown Victoria. (CTV News)The whisky comes from a single cask, retailing for around $250. Getting your hands on one of only 230 bottles isn’t easy.

Only five retail outlets carry the single malt in Canada – the Strath in Victoria being one of them.

"This is going to almost definitely go to a draw," said Bradshaw, pointing to the bottle of single malt. "You won’t be able to just buy this one, you’ll have to enter a draw for the rights to be able to buy it."

Not all hope is lost. In June, the distillery will be releasing a run of 10-year-old whisky, sold by retailers up and down Vancouver Island.

"Which will be some of the oldest whisky we’ve made," said Marinus.

That line of 10-year-old whisky will sell for around $90 a bottle. It’s expected that after the latest recognition from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society those bottles won’t last long on shelves.

"The whole goal is to make a good quality product," said Marinus.

"As time goes on you taste it for yourself and you go, 'well it tastes good to me,' and hopefully the rest of the world likes it," he said. "It turns out, they do." 

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