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Before I tidy the house in anticipation of a lovely (ahem) female visitor this evening, I thought I would try my second Canadian whisky of the weekend. Forty Creek is perhaps the most vibrant and interesting distillery in Canada today. It is actually part of Kittling Ridge winery and was built in 1970 to make eau de vie. John K. Hall, easily Canada's best known distiller (does anyone know the names of any others working today?), bought it in 1992. Coming from a winemaking background, he experiments with lots of different casks and approaches to whisky making. Michael Jackson called Forty Creek "the most revolutionary whisky in Canada."
Finding some oak trees near the distillery (that had been there since Confederation, hence the name), he matured the whisky in casks hewn from those oaks rather than the usual ex-bourbon barrels. These oak trees have a much tighter grain than American oak (due to the colder climate) which I am guessing causes the oakier vanilla elements to come through. All the bottles are designated lot 1867 (ha ha) and 16,800 bottles have been released. John Hansell of Whisky Advocate called this the best Canadian whisky he has every had - let's see if he's right!
The colour is a light gold with coppery highlights. The nose is extraordinary: light maple syrup, bubblegum, a hint of anise, coconut extract, raisins, orange, and lots of toffee. Very complex, sweet but never cloying. Water seems to have little effect here.
In the mouth, very creamy and buttery, yet also quite oaky (as befits the name), but just enough. A little more oak would tip it over the edge. Very fruity - you could drink this in the morning and it would be like an orange-vanilla-buttery...something. Or for dessert, with this butterscotch and praline, with a little white pepper. Scrumptious! Just sweet enough, just oaky enough. This is wonderful.
The finish is long and rich. You want to just sit and let the dark fruits, sweet toffee and hint of pepper just linger in your mouth. To say there is lots of vanilla going on across all senses would be an understatement. This is without a doubt one of the best Canadian whiskies I've had (up there with Wiser's Legacy and Gibson's 18), and is a true representation of the best that our style has to offer. If I find another bottle (this one was the last at the LCBO I went to) I will definitely pick it up!