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  1. #11

    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    As for the blending reference in the quoted paragraph, I am not sure how a mixture of whiskies is to be interpreted (maybe other rules in the U.S. standards would assist here). E.g., if a Canadian distillery mingles before aging some whisky that is low-proof with some that is high, is that a mixture? Or is a mixture only something which is a combination of whiskies from different distilleries? Can it be even two high proof whiskies from the same distillery if one is distilled from all-rye and the other from all-corn? I just don't know. I'll look at the labels of Canadian whiskies when in the States soon. Some may say the product is blended Canadian whisky.

    Gary
    Gary, I could be over-interpreting matters, but I have been thinking of blended Canadian whisky (at least in the United States) as a rough analogue of blended American whiskey. The latter is a blend of straight whiskeys (ie, whiskeys distilled to 160 proof or less and aged in new charred oak barrels) with other whiskeys (ie, whiskeys distilled to greater than 160 proof but less than 190 proof and aged in new and used oak barrels) and grain neutral spirits (ie, spirits distilled to 190 proof or more, either aged or unaged). Now, I realize that Canada doesn't have the concept of straight whiskey and that anything that goes into a bottle labeled Canadian whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years. However, I thought that the word "blended" on Canadian whisky sold in the United States implied that what was in the bottle was a blend of grain-based spirits distilled to 160 proof or less and grain-based spirits distilled to more than 160 proof. Like I said, I could be completely misinterpreting things.

    Forty Creek is the only Canadian whisky that I have ever seen that does not have the word "blended" on the label.

  2. #12
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Well, there is no requirement in Canadian law (that I know of) relating to distilling-out proof. All "Canadian whisky" must be made from a "cereals" mash (any grain is okay), aged 3 years in small wood (wood barrels not > 700 L), mashed, distilled and aged in Canada, and have the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky, That's it - subject to the blending rules, some of which I summarised earlier.

    In the actual practice of it, most Canadian distillers make a high proof base spirit, which is essentially GNS, and then age it at least 3 years. Also, they blend in, "at birth" or after maturation, some characterful, low-proof whisky which essentially is (to speak loosely) a straight or single malt whisky.

    On top of that, some add caramel, sherry, and maybe other spirits, but if it is spirits added, it has to be aged, for Canadian domestic consumption, at least 2 years.

    Now, this is different from U.S. blended whisky because as you said, it can and often does contain some real (unaged) GNS - this is not possible in Canada as I read the rules for Canadian whisky.

    But there is a rough analogy between the two whisky types since both have a minority perentage of low-proof flavourful whisky in them.

    Under Canadian law as I read it, up to 9.09% alcohol (this is a second, different application of the 9.09% concept) of whisky exported in bond from Canada can be from domestic or foreign spirits or wine, otherwise, the export officials must certify that it has more than that and second they cannot describe the product as Canadian whisky in the certificate. I.e., this is an exception to the rule for the domestic market that the flavouring spirit must be aged at least two years. Also though, it protects the foreign market in a way by the overall 9.09% limit on alcohol coming from a non-Canadian whisky source - that limit doesn't exist for the domestic market, what does exist in relation to 9.09% is the aging rule mentioned earlier, the 9.09% affects how you can describe the age of the resultant blend.

    The export rule would suggest some Canadian whisky sold in the U.S. can have some real GNS in it but I think in fact it cannot because the paragraph (g) I mentioned before from the U.S. standards of identity seems to apply the concept of what can be sold in Canada domestically. This seems to rule out new GNS.

    On the other hand, as I say, Canadian law for sales of whisky here does not as I read it limit the amount of flavouring you can add. E.g. as I read it, half the alcohol in a Canadian whisky can come from rum added (rum made anywhere). So presumably this could be "Canadian whisky" for U.S. purposes too, subject to the all-important qualifier mentioned earlier that the final blend must taste and have also the aroma and character of Canadian whisky. Subjective in part anyway as that is, that is the test, so if one's blend ends up tasting more like rum than a Canadian whisky, it should not be bearing the label Canadian whisky.

    In practice, I believe as I say most Canadian whisky is made by the Canadian distillers themselves, from low- and high-proof elements all distilled from corn or rye or wheat or a combination, and maybe sometimes with a little caramel or bourbon or something else added for additional flavour. This is what I believe because all Canadian whiskies I've had do taste somewhat similar and taste like an all-cereals distillate albeit (generally) mild in taste.

    As for why "blended" appears on most Canadian whisky labels in the U.S., I believe this must be because they are combinations of whisky (of aged low- and high-proof, or in some cases bourbon and aged high proof, and so forth).

    I say again though I am not a specialist in this area and this is simply what I think is the case from what I have read in the law. The matter is rather complex and again if I am missing something I'd be grateful for more information or other interpretations.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-02-2007 at 13:52.

  3. #13
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    All Canadian whiskey is blended. The difference between American blended whiskey and Canadian blended whiskey is that Canadian blended whiskey, like blended scotch, is "all whiskey," whereas American blended whiskey does contain neutral spirits.

    However, the base "whiskey" in Canadian whiskey (as with scotch) is distilled at a very high proof and aged in used barrels, usually used bourbon barrels, so while it's not technically "neutral," it is in fact nearly-neutral. What flavor it has comes mostly from the residual bourbon in the barrels.

    The "flavoring" in Canadian whiskey is not GNS. Canadian whiskey contains no GNS. The flavoring in Canadian whiskey frequently is bourbon, but brandy and other spirits are also used.

    Since that article, I have learned that the so-called pot still Forty Creek uses is more accurately a hybrid still, in that its pot is topped, not by an alembic, but by a rectification column.

    John Hall, the master distiller at Forty Creek, makes a rye whiskey, a malt whiskey and a corn whiskey, which he ages separately. Then he selects barrels and makes a blend from that. The corn whiskey is the very high proof, nearly-neutral "base."

  4. #14

    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    All Canadian whiskey is blended.
    Then why is there a distinction in the US labeling regulations between blended Canadian whisky and Canadian whisky without the modifier of "blended", and why is Forty Creek not labeled as blended?

  5. #15
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Well, I don't really know. Maybe the ones that say blended have whiskies in them from different distilleries and those that don't are made all at one distillery and the latter aren't considered blended (mixed). It depends (I think) on what mixed means. Maybe the term has been given a very specific meaning, possibly as a result of rulings or something.

    Gary

  6. #16
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    I don't think it means anything, but in fact every Canadian whiskey label I have handy says "blended" or "a blend" on it, except Forty Creek. I just sent John an email asking him why that's so and I'll let you know his answer.

    I recall asking John if his product is a Canadian whiskey in the ordinary understanding of that term and he said it is.

    In addition to what the regs say, the TTB has to approve every label of every distilled spirit sold in the USA, so Hall's label was obviously submitted and approved.

    I could speculate further as to why his labels don't say "blended," but it would be just speculation. I'll wait and see what he says.

  7. #17
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Looking again at the rules, the export-in-bond rule I spoke of (which I believe in fact does not apply to the U.S. market for the reasons given before) states in fact that if more than "9.090% imported spirits" is in a whisky blend, then that fact must be stated on the export certificate and the product cannot (as described again by Canadian officials certifying what it is) be called Canadian whisky.

    So, if domestic spirits (of any kind, say rum) are added, this is not subject to this rule. It is still Canadian whisky, even for export. But all flavouring that is spirits, for the domestic market, must be aged two years at a minimum.

    Various perms and combs seem to come out of this that are interesting, but anyway I still think whatever is required for something to be sold in Canada as Canadian whisky is what is required for it to be sold in the U.S. as ditto, subject possibly to this blending indication where whiskies are mixed, and whatever mixing means.

    Gary

  8. #18
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Was watching a show called "How It's Made" the other day. I think it was on PBS or Discovery. Canadian belnded whisky was one of the subjects. They took the host on a tour of a distillery and allowed him to blend his own whikey. So, they took a sample from a barrel and lined it up with other ingredients(about five or six). First the Master Blender poured in a generous amount of a very clear liquid and them proceeded to let the host blend in port, brandy and flavorings(non-alcoholic).
    Very educational! I will not be buying too many bottles of Canadian whisky in the future. I really like that Ky. and Tn. don't mix in other flavors with thier whiskey.
    Jeff Mo.

  9. #19
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Well, I didn't see that show (would like to).

    Whisky aged three years in reused barrels is often very light in colour (as we see from some Scots malts aged even much longer than that).

    But anyway there is no question that the base of Canadian whisky (or most of it, Forty Creek's apart it seems) is a high-proof albeit aged spirit and offers a relatively mild palate.

    And, it is a blended product, essentially, although each company adopts its own approach, e.g. I understand Crown Royal hasn't to date used flavourings in the sense of wine or non-whisky additions. They just blend whiskies together (5 basic types according to a recent article in Malt Advocate).

    However I just read at www.maltadvocate.com that Crown Royal will release another iteration soon (October). It is a special blend where some 50 whiskies are combined and given a Cognac finish. The product is put for a time in a French Limousin oak barrel. It will be called Royal Cask No. 16 (or a similar name, refer to the site for details). Looks interesting, there seems a trend (following developments with some Scots whiskies) to give North American whiskeys - a few - a winy touch in the finish as we see too e.g., from some of the Buffalo Trace experimental series (the ones to be released soon involve re-aging of straight bourbon for years in barrels that had held Zinfandel wine).

    Canadian whisky is a product with its own characteristics and is an alternative to straight whiskey, not a substitute. Sometimes I don't want the full flavour of a bourbon, much as I like fine bourbon. Everyone has their own taste in such matters...

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-03-2007 at 08:26.

  10. #20
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Well, thanks for the clarifications, Chuck. For a short while I felt like everything that I had learned about Canadian whisky was turned on its head.


    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post


    And, it is a blended product, essentially, although each company adopts its own approach, e.g. I understand Crown Royal hasn't to date used flavourings in the sense of wine or non-whisky additions. They just blend whiskies together (5 basic types according to a recent article in Malt Advocate).

    Gary
    This might help to explain why Crown Royal is one of the few Canadians consistenly available in Europe. I often lament the dearth of Canadian whisky over here. Could it be that all these "9.09%:ers" are prohibited from being sold in Europe, boiling down to the fact that they donīt meet the standards of what is considered whisky over here?
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

 

 

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