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Forty Creek Barrel Select

Countdown to Canada Day Part I

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

28th Jun 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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I have five very interesting Canadian whiskies to taste, leading up to Tuesday July 1st (I'll have a sixth the week after, so that will have to be extra). Let's start with a readily available standard offering from Forty Creek. I've reviewed some of their limited editions here (and the underrated Copper Pot) but this is my first examination of their most ubiquitous whisky. This particular bottle was a birthday gift from my brother.

I was surprised to learn that all the whiskies in Barrel Select are distilled in their copper pot still (given the high volume of this product, that distillation method seems quite laborious). The mash bill is a mix of rye, barley and corn, which are each matured separately in new white American oak barrels (at various char levels) for 6 to 10 years, then blended together and matured for another six months in sherry casks.

The colour is a reddish bronze. On the nose, black cherries, dates and walnuts. There are some raspberries and blackberries in there as well - quite fruity. Sharp rye in the background, with pencil shavings. Cloves and cinnamon. Earthy. Eucalyptus? And some sherry notes as well. Water adds more wet slate rye notes. Very complex for a standard Canadian release.

On the palate, the sherry notes are still present; also black currant, maple, honey and vanilla. Dark chocolate with some rich spices. Quite fruity as well, this time there are dates and plums. Water adds some citrus - very interesting. Not as complex as the nose but very enjoyable.

The finish is a little chalky with some Christmas cake and black liquorice to give it body. I hadn't tried this one is some years, and back then I thought it was so-so. But now I get much more complexity and richness than I remember. Less rye here than in most Canadian whiskies, but more fruit, nuts and chocolate. Very enjoyable and criminally easy to drink.

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Victor commented

Great review, @talexander. From the one bottle of it I have owned, I consider Forty Creek Barrel Select to be very underrated. Barrel Select has ton(ne)s of flavour at 40% abv. Very big flavours for that puny abv. At 2014 Spirit of Toronto on May 3, I asked Forty Creek Master Distiller/Master Blender John Hall what percentage of the total Forty Creek whisky production went into Barrel Select. He told me that 70% of Forty Creek Whisky becomes Barrel Selct. John Hall at Forty Creek gets just about the most flavour out of 40% abv that I have ever seen. Using a lot of new oak has a lot to do with that.

9 years ago 0

talexander commented

Yep, lots of new oak for 6-10 years - tonight I tasted it next to some bourbon (Maker's Mark) and it is quite interesting comparing those oak notes. Interestingly, I didn't mention oak in my tasting notes, as there was much more going on with fruit and vanilla.

9 years ago 0

talexander commented

Also, I'm tasting these while watching Man Of Steel which is pretty much a piece of shit movie.

9 years ago 0

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