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Forty Creek Barrel Select

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@VictorReview by @Victor

20th Jan 2013


Forty Creek Barrel Select
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Forty Creek Barrel Select is the basic mass market product of the Forty Creek Distillery. The reviewed bottle has been open about 13 months, and is 80% full. This review is in non-sequential format (SQVH)

Strength: the flavours of all of the component elements, grain, oak, and wine, are intensely powerful from nose to palate to finish. They are almost too strong, and this is at 40% abv. Score 23/25 all whiskies; 24/25 Canadian Category

Quality: for the first 5 months this manifest incredibly strong rye spicy flavours, very strong very sweet vanilla/caramel wood flavours (from new oak, I believe), and, this being Canadian blended whisky, strong wine flavours, as well. I liked the whisky during this time and would have rated it at 87 overall.

At about 5 months after the bottle was opened, sulphur drowned out everything else and made this bottle undrinkable...

...but, in the last couple of months, for reasons which I do not understand, the sulphur, which can still be tasted to a small degree, has receded in intensity and the whisky is once again drinkable, albeit softened, compared to the experience of the first 5 months.

Jim Murray reports in his 2013 Bible that Forty Creek has gotten the Sulphur out of Barrel Select with his more recently sampled batch. I am scoring this on the first 5 months, and on the supposition that Mr. Murray has it right for the more recent batches. Score 21/25 all; 23/25 Canadian

Variety: there is tons of variety in these flavours. The mouth pops with their intensity. Score 23/25 all; 24/25 Canadian

Harmony: the intense flavours together make a slightly strange brew. Not refined, not sophisticated, but highly entertaining and very robust. A bruiser. Score 20/25 all; 21/25 Canadian

Total Scores: 87 all; 92 Canadian

Comment: I like this whisky. I am enthusiastic at the prospect that my next bottle of Forty Creek Barrel Select will likely not have an issue with Sulphur flavours. Personally I prefer the Barrel Select over what I have sampled of the Forty Creek Confederation Oak, which is to me dull and washed-out by comparison

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Victor commented

Badly handled sherry casks have sulfur in them.

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

Now re-sampling Forty Creek Barrel Select, half a bottle and THREE YEARS LATER, obervations:

1) I still like Barrel Select, quite a lot

2) three years later, the flavours are still very intense, perhaps the strongest I have ever tasted from ANY NATIONALITY 40% ABV whisk(e)y. Three years of the bottle open, this nose is still HUGE, 90th percentile of intensity for any nose. The mouth flavours are still as strong as most whiskies at 55-60% ABV NEW.

3) this particular sulphur-tainted batch has evolved in a way which hides the residual sulphur behind the rye flavours pretty well. Right now, 3 years later and sulphur-tainted, this is still easily 85 pt whisky. More recent reports, e.g. from sulphur ghoul Jim Murray, are that the sulphur problem in Barrel Select has been eliminated.

4) I consider Forty Creek Barrel Select to be a very underrated whisky. Some Forty Creek premium expressions, especially the one bottle of Forty Creek Confederation Oak from which I have extensively sampled, I consider to be overrated. Could just be that one batch, though, I DO understand.

5) John Hall, Master Distiller and Master Blender at Forty Creek/Beam Suntory, knows what he is doing. He is making whisky in the Canadian Style, and THERE IS A CANADIAN STYLE. In general, I don't like wheat and rye together, and I don't think that wine casks (or wine additives) work well with either or both of wheat and rye. John puts them all together, and gets more flavour from 40% ABV whisky than just about anyone else on earth. John Hall knows that wheat, rye, and corn ALL work better with NEW OAK, and has revolutionaised Canadian whisky by using a lot of new oak. Barley-malt whiskies have to be very careful of the use of new oak, because barley has subtle flavours which are easily overwhelmed by new oak, IF THAT OAK HAS BEEN CHARRED. Glenmorangie Ealanta illustrates the potential of long-aged malt whisky using new oak which has been TOASTED, BUT NOT CHARRED.

6)Forty Creek Barrel Select is the primary ambassador of Forty Creek to the world. John Hall told me in March that Barrel Select constitutes approximately 70% of all of Forty Creek's whisky production, overall.

9 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

John Hall works for Beam/Suntory? This is news to me! I knew FC was bought by Campari, but wasn't aware that Hall was working for a competitor...

9 years ago 0

Victor commented

@Nozinan, my mistake, Gruppo Compari now owns Forty Creek, and John Hall still works at Forty Creek.

9 years ago 0

paddockjudge commented

@Victor, FC keeps it all together in the bottle for a very long time.

I have a bottle of (no longer available) FC'Three Grains' that is now open 7 years. Sweet and nutty nose, whisps of dried tobacco leaf, orange, gingery-citrus and baking spices. The nose is huge!

Palate entry - creamy, dreamy rye spices, butterscotch.

Rye spices dominate the exit while ginger and citrus pith complete this one. I wish I had a case of this one.

9 years ago 0