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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    I'm working on a story for WHISKY Magazine about Forty Creek Canadian Whisky. They have two expressions, Barrel Select and Three Grain. Both are blends of corn, rye and malt whiskey, and both are sold at 80 proof. The primary expression, Barrel Select, is finished in sherry casks after blending.

    I have characterized the Barrel Select as exhibiting caramel, vanilla and a little dark fruit. The Three Grain shows those flavors, but you can also taste white dog underneath, especially the flavorful young rye whisky. Neither product reveals much char. The Barrel Select has a little bite while the Three Grain is candy-sweet.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    Funny, I just bought a bottle today.

    I find each bottling of Barrel Select slightly different. The latest one, distinguishable from the earlier by a "40" printed on the neck label, clearly has older whiskies in it than before; the, "black walnut" taste promised by the blurb on the leaflet is quite prominent, therefore, in the current botling.

    I like the bottles more from the previous batch, the aging seems more even, but then too I prefer medium-aged whiskey to older while many people feel the reverse, of course.

    I really like Barrel Select, it is a good blending of the constituent whiskies. It has lots of flavor but is still very drinkable, mixable, but good straight, too. The Forty Creek distiller, John Hall, told me at a tasting that the whiskies are only distilled once. They must (I would think) be distilled at between 160 and 190 proof because they do not taste congeneric, while retaining nice flavoring elements. Or maybe they are distilled low and filtered in some way, or maybe some are distilled low and some high but in any case Hall knows how to blend them. barrel Selelct is essentially a cross between ordinary Canadian whisky and, say, Wild Turkey's or the Overholt rye - poised between polarities of flavor, that is, but adroitly so.

    I think John Hall has hit on an excellent formula with this product. I like the Three Grain less so, to me it has a wild cherry-like flavor, with a bit of feisty spirit underneath. It is a unique flavor but is hard to place.

    Gary

  3. #3
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    My bottle has no '40' on the neck label so I guess it must be one of the older versions.

    The fruitiness in my bottling is reserved exclusively for the nose (quite charming, actually!). On the palate it displays caramel and a distinct nuttiness. It is a tad spirity but this is not as prevalent as in other Canadian whiskys Ive tried.

    I will definitely check out the new version if I can find it.

  4. #4
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    This is exactly the palate I note in the pre-"40" version.

    The 40 version is similar but seems to have older whiskies in the blend. I prefer the previous bottling which is a little more lively.

    Gary


  5. #5
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    I normally don't do tasting reviews but I rose to the challenge last night over my half-empty bottle of Forty Creek and here are my impressions.

    You're completely right about the vanilla and caramel. The vanilla is more prominent in the nose together with slight fruit which I think is coming from the sherry casks. The caramel presents itself more in the finish.

    The nose is very heavy and somewhat dull. The body is heavy as well; it has an annoyingly "syrupy" mouthfeel that makes me wonder if it is artificially thickened. The flavour is one dimensional; not in a bad way, it's very clean and smooth, but it lacks personality. The alcohol is completely masked, but there is a distinctive medicinal grain alcohol "edge"... it's hidden, but reveals itself as in a bad game of hide and seek.

    The finish is very smooth and that's where the caramel comes in. It's not a burnt caramel, but it's there.

    There's nothing bad you can say about this whiskey. In fact, for a Canadian style, it's probably the best I've tasted. But you can't compare it to scotch or bourbon.

    What do I think? When I first tasted it, I was somewhat disappointed (I had higher hopes). But I've come to see it's merits and I will probably buy it again. It's a fine whiskey to serve someone who finds bourbon and scotch too powerful.


  6. #6
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    Excellent notes, Dave, you point out the essential attributes of this whisky but I would say taken all in all it is better than you suggest. That syrupy note is surely from sherry cask aging but it is kind of stolid (not say like the sherry notes of Macallan).

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, take your Lot 40 and blend it 50/50 with any bourbon that is tasty and not too old, say, Maker's or even Jim Beam (or Maker's AND Jim Beam).

    The result will be better (IMO) than either drink on its own - really. If you don't believe me, add a dash of Southern Comfort to your blend, that will clinch it.

    Gary

  7. #7
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    You're completely right about the vanilla and caramel. The vanilla is more prominent in the nose together with slight fruit which I think is coming from the sherry casks. The caramel presents itself more in the finish.

    The finish is very smooth and that's where the caramel comes in. It's not a burnt caramel, but it's there.

    There's nothing bad you can say about this whiskey. In fact, for a Canadian style, it's probably the best I've tasted. But you can't compare it to scotch or bourbon.

    This has been on my 'I want to try this' list for a while, but with so many Bourbon's left to try, spending $20 on a Canadian just wasn't ranking high enough to actually buy. Then I found Ohio delisted Barrel Select. This is a mixed blessing because I bought it for $10.60, but barring a find I'll never see it in Ohio again ;-(

    This is a really good whisky. Yes, other comments say, this is not a blow my head open Bourbon (and I LIKE blow my head open Bourbons!!!) but it is a great drink, especially in these warm summer days. I agree with all the flavors expressed but I seem to be the only one who found apricots in there as well.

    I generally think of Canadians as mixers but this is a straight pour and most enjoyable.... I'll have to make my stash of it last

    Cheers,

    Ken

  8. #8
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    To me it most comes to life as part of simple or complex blends. I've said earlier how a combination of about 2 parts Barrel Select, 1 part 3 Grain and 1 or 2 parts Royal Reserve (or use any basic Canadian rye, one not too aged) notably (in my opinion) improves all three drinks. I have some of this already made up and may bring a pint to Gazebo along with the items mentioned earlier so people can see how good this can be. What Dave is referring to as a "heavy" character is I think partly from being well-aged, I think Barrel Select is 12 years old or more possibly. I think this can happen when a lighter (relatively) spirit is well-aged in oak. 3 Grain is I think younger, or it seems so, and combining it with Barrel Select lightens the weight and makes the taste "brighter" - finally the high proof young Canadian whisky (Walker's Special Old is another choice for this one, despite the name) just smooths it all down. Oddly, I don't get much high proof effect in the result - that is the blending at work I think. In fact I think the Kittling Ridge whiskies are not super-high in proof (probably between 160-190) but I'm not sure. All three are good on their own when drunk on the rocks or mixed with soda water or pop (and probably were designed with that goal in mind) but taken neat I like to adjust the tastes to a more specific palate I am looking for. All these whiskies are amongst the least expensive you can buy in Canada today and it is quite surprising what complex blends you can make with 3 or even 2 such materials. I realise not everyone is interested to try this though.
    Gary

  9. #9
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    Gary, it is so fun reading about the blends you come up with. Someday I may venture into that world. Right now I'm still trying to figure out what I taste in the bottle as made....

    As to Barrel Select, I had no idea it was that old. That is, I'm sure, one of the things I really like about it. I find 10-12 years is often my favorite age (exceptions abound, Old Protero is great at only three years).

    You mention cost, how much does Barrel Select sell for in Canada??

    Cheers,

    Ken

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    Wow, I hadn't realized the whiskey had gotten that old, last time I had that was in 2001 when the whiskey was only 8...looks like I need to pick up a recent bootling and revisit

 

 

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