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I have wanted to do a batch review of this one for some time. This whisky is partially matured in Canadian Oak casks, being the only major whisky producer to do so. These very carefully made casks are limited in quantity, but have quite thick staves (1.5"), which means that they can be re-used and rejuvenated for a longer period than regular casks. Regardless, the interaction with the wood is a bit different each time - and I've been interested to see how the batches change, if indeed they do. This bottling is from batch D, and I have already reviewed batch B, which was one of my favourite whiskies. Below the review is a direct batch comparison from some of my samples I had left over.
Nose: Sweet, with light corn and some rich, buttery maple notes too which continue to grow with time. Vanilla, also, emerges with time. It still holds the signature toasted oak, baked bread, and lightly earthy characteristics which are prevalent in Forty Creek. There is a touch of stale bitterness here, unfortunately. Still quite a complex offering but it doesn't fit together as it should. 88%
Taste: Rich and sweet, with grape and vanilla - but not that spicy or sharp. Toasted oak notes and tannins are felt, and some of that oakiness is quite rich. The light acidity also keeps it nicely in check. Delivery is quite nice, but here the balance is such that the sweetness is a tad too high, I think. Still controlled, and long though - it draws out the flavours nicely. 90%
Finish: There is lots going on - vanilla, oak, currants, dried fruit, coconut some tingly spices...a bit dry with touches of tannin too and a bit of bitterness. The bitterness doesn't help, and it's not singing in harmony, though the feel is good. 83%
Conclusion: Frankly, I've been quite surprised at this. It's still quite nice - but it shows flashes of brilliance with some awkward bits rather than just being brilliant, as I've seen from this bottling before. More below. 88%
Weighting the nose 25%, taste 35%, finish 15%, and intrigue 25%, the overall score is 88.
After conducting an initial review, I was quite surprised and conducted three reviews (two blind) with both batches - and my suspicions were confirmed. This bottle I have of batch D is certainly not as good as batch B.
On the nose, B is far richer, vibrant - alive - with more going on and fitting together much more in balance. On the palate it's sharper, clearer in definition, and with more flavour - more fruit and earthiness, for sure. It leads more slowly into a longer finish. The finish is also cleaner, and bigger, with more development. Overall, as I've said, richer, longer, and more elegant.
Batch D is a bit dustier, and a bit flatter. The taste is almost feels watered down, and the bitterness on the nose and finish is there too. In the blind tastings, it took me less than 3 seconds to differentiate with confidence between the batches. Really too bad to see a bad batch (relatively- still decent overall!) of what has been one of my favourite whiskies. As such - and unless I taste more mediocre batches - my hope is still with Forty Creek Confederation Oak and the brilliance that it showed me in batch B (which I rated a 95). Batch E is out now but I'm not so eager on that one after this...