View Full Version : Forty Creek Premium Barrel Select Canadian Whisky
I bought this one a couple of hours ago on a lark at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa (I was in the neighborhood, I needed some WT Rye, one think led to another, etc.), and now here I am, sipping it neat and wondering what the heck it is.
It surely doesn't taste like any other whisk(e)y I've ever tasted, except maybe The Macallan 12 year-old. The lable speaks of several flavors, of which apricot is the only one that is obvious to me.
It's so sweet that if I were to use it in a Manhattan, I would consider using dry vermouth to avoid adding unnecessary sweetness.
It just came to me what it reminds me of, Appleton Estate Extra rum. I would not believe it came from grain or had ever spent time in charred oak, except that the label says so.
After my third pour, I just now realized that this is the darkest tinted bottle I can recall. It's as brown as a hydrogen peroxide bottle. (In sharp contrast, the whiskey is a light, straw color.) It will be hard to tell by looking how much is left in the bottle.
Interesting comments, Dave. The flavour of Canadian whisky is quite unique and you have put your finger on some key characteristics. Canadian is often thought to taste something like Scotch, and indeed barley whisky is often a component of Canadian whisky, as in this case.
The maker, privately owned Kittling Ridge in Grimsby, Ontario, distills separately all-corn, rye and barley whiskies and then combines them. Canadian is a kind of hybrid of Scotch (or really Irish whiskey because these barley whiskies are not peated) and bourbon-type whiskies. So the Macallan-like element you noticed is partly from the barley whisky in there but also from the sherry cask aging process used by Forty Creek, which of course is a hallmark of The Macallan. The Forty Creek whisky is made in a pot still too, like Scotch or Irish, so there is another connection to European practice. Still, I would say Forty Creek has a characteristic Canadian lightness of body.
Almost certainly it has (that one) no added flavouring, I think the apricot and other notes derive solely from the casking and blending process.
Forty Creek is a craft product and is distinctive yet very much in the Canadian whisky tradition in my view.
...distills separately all-corn, rye and barley whiskies and then combines them.
When I bought this bottle, I noticed another Forty Creek bottling called "Three Grain" or similar. I now realize that such an appellation hardly sets it apart. Is it merely the same ingredients in different proportions?
Drinking Forty Creek Barrel Select was rather disorienting to me. To regain my balance I did a side-by-side with WT101 and RR later in the evening. Amazingly, I noticed some faint (and I do mean "faint") similarity between the RR and the FCBS.
Well, you bought the right one. Barrel Select is a richer blend, the Three Grain is good but lighter still. Both are made in a similar way and I suspect the Barrel Select may simply be older, or maybe it alone gets the sherry cask treatment. You would notice a "family connection" to the U.S. whiskeys you mentioned because Canadian is broadly part of that family. For example, there are significant amounts of corn and rye whiskies in Forty Creek, so in effect it is a type of straight whiskey. Its Canadian character derives (in my view) from its lightness (notwithstanding the use of a pot still) and the addition of a barley whisky. I am not sure how old it is; maybe with another 4 years or so aging it might approach a good U.S. straight whiskey in terms of depth and further complexity. It is made by someone who worked for many years as a winemaker in the Niagara, and he being experienced at wine blending intended to devise a whisky of delicacy and complexity. I think it is an excellent whisky, it is one that can be taken straight (neat) and I find it goes well with a ginger ale or light beer on the side. Partner it with a Molson's and one has the makings of a good Canadian boilermaker. But (as a good Canadian would say): not more than one! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
It is tasty stuff!! Cheaper than that swill Crown Royal!
I purchased both of the Forty Creek products the last time I was in Canada and, coincidentally, recently met John Hall, the owner and distiller, one day at Binny's here in Chicago. Nice guy. I find it interesting that Forty Creek is made the way it is, with the separate mono-grain distillations instead of using a mixed grain mash, like the U.S. I guess that is the Canadian way, I just never thought about it. Hall just does it on a small scale using one distillery.
My reaction was, why bother? A Canadian goes to the trouble to make a "hand-crafted" whiskey and it still comes out as brown vodka. I suppose the choice of the word "subtle" instead of "bland" is purely subjective, but that was my personal reaction. About the most positive adjective I can come up with for any Canadian whisky is "inoffensive."
I wish Canada, which has a long and venerable whisky-making tradition, would come out with something a little more flavorful, but since they are so accoustomed to using high distillation proof and used cooperage, it seems unlikely.
With regret, I have to agree. It is surprising ... perhaps. Canada (according to John Lipman) acquired early on the American rye whiskey heritage (via United Empire Loyalist transplantation, mainly). But Hiram Walker, and later the Bronfmans, blended the product and traduced its nature. They created something different, but hardly as distinctive. I too had high hopes when I first tried Forty Creek. I expected something that tasted as I'd imagined Mount Vernon or Guckenheimer Rye Whiskey tasted like in 1918, something like that. Perhaps we Canadians, not having originated the straight rye style, could never become its rightful inheritors. Straight rye - which in truth has barely survived even in the U.S. and not at all in its original heartlands of Pennsylvania and Maryland - needs a fillip, full stop. Hopefully the experiment reported in Washington will provide the kick-start.
I believe the entirely excellent Van Winkle and Sazerac ryes may do more to revitalize interest especially if, as I believe has been the case, they are considered successful in their small niche. That will prompt other producers to offer more sophisticated and flavorful ryes. I think the real benefit of the Mt. Vernon project is the one for which it probably is intended, to reinforce the idea that the making and, therefore, enjoyment of whiskey is a mainstream practice and not some kind of deviant behavior, as neo-prohibitionists would have us believe. It's literally as American as George Washington.
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