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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

    Chuck,

    To my taste the Barrel Select is over-sherried in the same sense as The Macallan 12 y/o. In both cases I find myself wondering what the whisk(e)y really tastes like.

    The nose of the Barrel Select is really very enticing, even if one-dimensional. However, except for a little sparkley dance on the front of the tongue upon entry, what the nose reveals is pretty much the whole show.

    The overall experience is more reminiscent of Dry Sack than any whiskey of my acquaintance.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  8. #8
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    Again I feel obliged to respond because I know the whisky well. Dave has pegged the nose and taste exactly just as Dave M. did. (We often talk about how taste is personal yet I note that experienced tasters frequently agree on taste impressions). I think the sherry would meld better with the three whiskies in the blend if there was some straight whiskey in the drink which is why I advise to add some - it would give some body for the sherry to work on.. The lighter elements would come into their own, too. One of the things I learned from, or was reminded by, Jim Murray's Whisky Bible is not all sherry casks are the same. He speaks of very high quality sherry casks, for example, and claims to detect their effect in some whiskies. I happened to drink some Macallan last night and found the particular bottle (standard 12 year old) very good. The sherry was evident but was soft and flavourful (flowery), it did in a way dominate the drink but that is the Macallan style. I think Barrel Select too will appeal to those who like that style, or who like smooth brandy, for example, but it is not really a straight whiskey experience. Fair enough since it is styled a Canadian whisky.

    Gary

  9. #9
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    Barrel Select too will appeal to those who like that style, or who like smooth brandy, for example, but it is not really a straight whiskey experience. Fair enough since it is styled a Canadian whisky.
    That hits the nail on the head.

    Incidently, Gary. I did try the 50/50 blending with Jim Beam Black last night and really enjoyed the resulting drink!

  10. #10
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    Re: Forty Creek Canadian Whisky

    Glad you used the Black, Dave, because after writing my post I was thinking, he'll probably use Jim Beam White which may be okay but the Black Label would be so much better. That is the perfect Bourbon to do that with!

    Gary

 

 

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