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Comparing Three Forty Creek Whiskies

by Oliver Klimek on September 2, 2012

Some Canadian whiskies are virtually impossible to find in Europe, so I was more than happy to be able to swap a few samples with Canadian whisky blogger Johanne McInnis of The Perfect Whisky Match. I received three different samples of Forty Creek, a distillery in Grimsby, Ontario that has the reputation of making some of Canada’s finest drams. A first sip of all three showed that they are rather similar in character, so I decided to try them head to head.

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Lot 245 – 40%

Colour: Medium amber
Nose: Quite strong, reminiscent of an Irish potstill whiskey. Burnt sugar, honey, apricot, orange zest, cinnamon and polished wood.
Palate: Butterscotch, gentle honey, vanila, lemon zest, cinnamon.
Finish: Rather long, sweet and slightly fruity.
Overall: Very enjoayble and easy-going, this dram is a bit on the sweet side but the overall balance is quite pleasant.

Rating: 84/100 – Price Tag $$$$$ – Value for your Money $$$$$

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve

Lot 1867 – 40%

Colour: Medium amber
Nose: Almost like the Double Barrel, maybe a little dryer and less sugary along with a bit of added vanilla.
Palate: Dark caramel, vanilla, orange zest, toffee, cinnamon, noticeable wood influence.
Finish: Long and dry with a balance of sweetness, fruit and spice.
Overall: Definitely my favourite of the three with a pleasant nose, a robust palate and a long finish.

Rating: 86/100 – Price Tag $$$$$ – Value for your Money $$$$$

Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1

Lot 2011 – 40%

Colour: Medium amber
Nose: Somewhat less intensive with subtle citrus and floral hints.
Palate: Butterscotch, vanilla, very faint citrus, cinnamon and a hard to define fragrant undertone.
Finish: Medium long, sweet and slightly spicy.
Overall: This is the gentlest of the three, by a margin. Actually it is a little too gentle for my taste with the sweetness dominating the other flavours.

Rating: 80/100 – Price Tag $$$$$ – Value for your Money $$$$$


While the first quick taste showed many similarities between the three bottlings, a more in-depth comparision revealed notable differences. The overall character is still quite congruent, but several subtle differences make them distinctive expressions of this distillery. While the robust Confederation Oak is perfectly ok at 40%, the other two bottlings would definitely benefit from an increased bottling strength.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andreas Schicht September 5, 2012 at 12:06 am

As I visited Kittling Ridge which is making Wine and Forty creek whisky two weeks ago and I had the chance to take a tour and had a wee taste of the three expressions you mentioned, the Barrel Select and a new Portwood Expression which will be sold from Sept.15 th for the Canadian market.
The guys around John Hall are very passionate about their whisky and the fact that John is a winemaker makes all that even more interesting but as my favourite was the Confed. Oak I still think that they have a way to go as the whisky is good but not outstanding.
Canadians are crazy about their stuff but I still prefer Wisers Legacy, Gibson 18 or Alberta Premium 30 over all the Forty Creek Whiskies as their character is much more unique than the FC stuff. There is still the first Potstill made in Germany which the austrian founders of the Distillery brought with them in the Stillhouse and they told me that they want to refurbish it and so maybe we’ll see a small batch undiluted unchillfiltered Forty Creek soon…I hope so.
Don’t get me wrong – this is no FC bashing here but as they have so much potential I am a bit disappointed that FC and Canadian Whisky are not trying harder to get back to great Quality and use their knowledge and rich heritage to create Whisky with a unique profile and intrinsic Quality.


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