Oh Taste & See: Forty Creek Barrel Select Whisky

For the first tasting from my 'purchased on my vacation' series I've decided to pop open the bottle of Forty Creek Barrel Select Canadian whisky that I picked up at the duty free shop in Niagara Falls. I had read good things about Forty Creek distillery, and it was high on my "To Taste" list. So when I saw a one liter bottle for just $25 (Canadian!) at it looked like as good way as any to convert my Canadian cash to something with real value.

Forty Creek Barrel Select is a small batch whisky distilled in Grimsby, Ontario on the south shore of Lake Ontario. It's crafted by John K. Hall, the man behind Kittling Ridge Estate Wines & Spirits. Forty Creek is unique among Canadian blended whiskies in that Mr. Hall distills and ages each of its component grains (corn, rye, and malted barley) separately and blends them to taste after aging. He also uses a variety of barrels, including those formerly used to age sherry, to impart a full range of flavors to his final product.

Color: Forty Creek is a very nice looking whisky in the glass with a rich, burnt-orange color.

Nose: The aroma from Forty Creek is initially boozy and astringent, but with a dash of water and some time to open up hints of vanilla, rye, and oak start to show up, although it still doesn't have an overly strong nose.

Flavor: Given the weak aroma, I began to worry that Forty Creek's flavor would disappoint. I needn't have worried as it packs plenty of taste and is one of the richer blended whiskies I've had. The initial taste is a spicy kick from the rye. On top of this I found notes of sweetness - caramel and honey - along with a nice vanilla and oak flavor. Overall it's a full bodied and extremely smooth whisky.

Finish: The finish with Forty Creek isn't overly long - it is clean and smooth with some lingering notes of vanilla and honey. The spicy kick stays on the tip of your tongue for a while too - just enough to remind you that the smooth drink you're sipping is a full 80 proof.

Overall Forty Creek is a solid whisky, and has a lot more character than I'm used to finding in Canadian blends. It goes down smooth, has enough complexity to make it an interesting sipper, and its flavor is very unique. In fact, if I didn't know what I was drinking I would have had a very hard time pinning it down as a Canadian whisky and probably would have guessed it was a nice Irish whiskey. I guess the tag on the bottle-neck touting it's #1 ranking among Canadian Whiskies (according to Whisky Magazine's Michael Jackson) might just be spot on. Eh?