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  1. #11
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    Gary,

    I believe the one you mention that blends all straight whiskies from Kittling Ridge is Forty Creek. I just tried a mini of Forty Ridge Barrel Select. Being much more used to bourbon, my first impressions were that it was light, subtle and uninspired. I could only discern one stand-out flavor-- sherry. I wondered if they did some aging in used sherry casks, which it sounds like they do from their website:
    Forty Creek Website.

    The site description makes it seem more interesting than it was to taste. They use typical bourbon grains (corn, rye, barley), but as Chuck said, distill and age them separately. Apparently, they use different ages and different chars of barrels for each grain. You can't get a straight answer from them on age other than the minimum for Canadian whisky is 3 years and they quote that, "Some of these whiskies will be in the barrel for ten years." Again, like most Canadians, it's probably a blend of many different ages, and probably between 3 and 10 years. They claim to use only pot stills in the distilling.

    The process seems solid to me. However, I wasn't wow-ed by the product. I guess a sherry-tasting outcome should not be too unexpected from a first-generation distiller who had spent 30 years as a winemaker.

    Mark

  2. #12
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    I agree fully. The hallmark of Canadian taste in whisky seems to be lightness and mildness, even with such a quality producer. Within the full range of Canadian whisky you get a certain amount of taste difference but in relation to bourbon almost all Canadian whiskies seem rather bland..

    Gary

  3. #13
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    I respect what Hall is trying to do with Forty Creek, trying to make something interesting while staying true to the Canadian type. You have to judge Canadians on their own terms and not try to compare them to bourbons. My first impression of both expressions was a shrug, but with a little careful tasting I found several things to like. The Three Grain is especially interesting. It is candy-sweet but with a hint of white dog in the background. They won't make anyone swear off Stagg, but they beat the 'brown vodka' rap.

  4. #14
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    Thanks to you both for bringing up these points. I guess I'm struggling with the style of Canadians as much as this brand. My notes should have the following disclaimer:

    1. I have little experience with Canadian whisky.
    2. I haven't found one I really love.
    3. This has the most promise of what I've tried.

    That said, I'm no expert on sc*tch or Irish whiskey either, but quickly found ones I've liked. I also have to keep in mind something I left out of my above notes-- the proof. I can't help thinking of my lack-luster opinions of 80 proof bourbons, and it might mean I'd feel the same about other whisk(e)y. Maybe a higher proof some of the subtlety of a light whisky. Maybe the Canadians need a special product for some of us Americans that ain't too big on subtlety. (Just kidding.) Canadians know that I don't know what I'm talking a-boot when it comes to their native product, so I'll stop before I dig a deeper trench...
    Mark

  5. #15
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    To get an idea of what Canadian blended whisky was like 50 years ago, I'd buy Pikesville or Wild Turkey rye and add an ounce or a bit more to the full bottle. Rye is so pungent it stiffens the blend quite a bit. I mentioned this practice of mine to Craig Beam and after emitting a cloud of fragrant cigar smoke, he said, "makes sense".

    Gary

  6. #16
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    Thanks, Gary. I'll have to try that. That is the first instance of "home blending" that sounds feasible and appealing to me.

    Mark

  7. #17
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    Well, it makes sense since that's what the distillers here do - add some straight whiskey to the light (high proof) base. And originally (and still to an extent) they added rye, not bourbon. You're just making a more luxurious blend by adding a bit more rye to the bottle. I like doing it with Crown Royal, the results are really good. I tasted this against a friend's Crown Royal he found in his late parents' liquor cabinet dating from the 1960's. The two bottles were very similar in taste (really).

    Gary

  8. #18
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Canadians I\'d like to taste.

    Recently I laid in a couple of Canadian whiskies to check their current taste profiles. Here's a capsule report:

    Seagram's '83: this staple of frat and suburban house parties is considered junior to Seagram's VO and Crown Royal yet actually is a nice dram of whisky. It has a deep nose of oak and light whisky. No charred flavours appear, the body is full and there is a whisky flavour evident through the oak albeit restrained: this is not brown vodka. I liked the fact the whisky did not have a "doctor's office" smell of alcohol.

    Canadian Club 10 years old: CC comes in the regular issue (6 or so years old), 10 years old, 12 years old, and even 15 years. The 10 is a good expression of the style: crisp, lightly caramel, oaky but again not charred. This one did have a bit of neutral spirits odor about it, and in this sense, the Seagram's '83 was superior. But again this is whisky that is blended, not pronounced in taste, reflecting different influences in its character, one which will appeal to many. And it mixes very well, perhaps its main attribute.

    Crown Royal: I have found this whisky changeable over the years and this particular sample did not shine. The whisky seemed not well-knitted, there was a hint of GNS-type nose, and flinty/spirity flavours that didn't have the sonorous brandy-like signature I recalled in CR in the past. Traditionally CR is a smooth, complex blend informed by a light backbone of straight whisky: both bourbon and straight rye were (are?) used to stiffen the blend. Maybe I should try Crown Royal Limited Edition or Crown Royal Special Reserve to get the palate I recall from regular CR, or maybe I just hit a dull bottle (it happens).

    Canadian whisky doesn't change much overall as a style. It is remarkably still what it was, namely a light spirit whose character is mainly influenced by refill charred casks so that it acquires a deeper, more concentrated taste than when young. In the past, so-called flavoring whiskies (straight rye in particular) added character to Canadian whisky but I wonder if very much of it is added today. Spirit caramel clearly was and is added to some Canadians and this seemed evident in some of the whiskies mentioned above.

    My best use for these was to blend them further by adding real bourbon or rye: I tried this using Van Winkle rye (the later-numbered, more astringent of the two I bought recently) in one instance and Buffalo Trace in another. I got an excellent whisky drink from 2:1 Seagram's '83 to Van Winkle rye. 1:1 was unbalanced but 2:1 worked just fine. These "super-blends" are not straight whiskey of course but, speaking of food and whisky combinations, I could see drinking these with certain foods where straight whiskey alone might be too much. Certain Chinese cuisines would go nicely with the Seagram's '83/Van Winkle combination, perhaps with a touch of soda added. Maybe a fry-up of eggs and Ontario peameal bacon would too, hmm, that could be a plan for Sunday brunch..

    Gary

 

 

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