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There's no hiding that this is my favourite regularly-produced Canadian whisky, so I'll say it outright. It's produced in the Forty Creek "meritage" style, made from a mix of single grain corn, rye, and malted barley whiskies blended together before 2 years of finishing in Canadian oak. The barrels were made under the supervision of John Hall, whisky maker at Forty Creek, out of 150-year-old trees from near the distillery.
The batches have varied a little, and likely they will continue to do so - but I certainly hope (and expect) that the quality of this whisky will continue. With a considerable number of barrels made from the trees acquired by John Hall, and the very thick barrel staves (allowing for recharring/rejuvenation of the wood), this whisky should stay consistent and wonderful for quite some time.
This reviewed batch is from 1867-B, and I was stunned when I tried it right out of the bottle, and when I reviewed it some months later. Now, it still stuns me but the conditions have to be right. However, a sample I tried last year from the distillery was also fantastic though I believe it was the same batch as mine.
Nose: The nose is complex, and multifaceted – there appears to be a grain, cream, fruit, sweet, wood, and spice component all in this one nose, brilliantly integrated together. On the grain side, rye shines through brilliantly, with a fresh bread element – like fresh and hot rye bread. The rye is slighly grassy, reminding me a bit of a an irish pot still type grassiness. On the cream side, there’s wonderful creamy butterscotch and brilliant sweetness in the nose. The creaminess is fascinating – there’s butterscotch, whipped cream, caramel, and vanilla all shining through. On the sweet side, there’s honey, with some floral hints of lavender, and maple, which takes its place ahead of the oak that is present in the nose as well. In terms of spice, there is slight, subtle cinnamon spice and some pepper. I also get some stewed, slightly sour fruit like apricots or plums along with a bit of tartness as with blackberries.The nose evolves, with a bit more smokiness and fruitiness coming out as it sits and I incredibly enjoy appreciating all that is going on. It’s wonderful too, that it changes as you continue to sip through the bottle (or do successive revies). On one of my tastings, navel orange peel was rising madly out of the glass - and I hadn't even noticed it before. An absolute pleasure. 95%
Taste: Silky smooth, with sweet citrus entry with some orange, as rising rye spice is balanced with beautiful vanilla sweetness which gives way to sweet vanilla and some nuts to rise up again over the finish. A bit oaky as well, not too much, but just enough. It's fruity, sometimes even showing some brandy character, as well as some raisins. A touch smoky, with the signature forty creek toasted oak present in the middle. A bit of fruitcake which comes in at times. The sweet/spice dynamic is brilliant, the fruitiness is just about perfect to compliment the two. And even with that, there's some intriguing tartness. 95%
Finish: Long, slow, tingly, warming, slightly dry, and sweet. Very pleasant. Can chew on the flavour for some time. A bit earthy, with good depth and some maple syrup, nuts, vanilla, and some grassy rye. the tingly spice is also brilliant, with a touch of clove, and it is one of my favourite mouth experiences. Also, the tartness is also ever so slightly present, just asking you to take another sip. As I sip, I find the finish has a bit more and more oak. 93%
Intrigue: Very enjoyable, and approachable, with a fantastic flavour profile and brilliant balance. The soft, sweet flavours sit beside the spicy and bolder flavours, and a remarkable amount is going on. Also a very worthy collectors item. 95%