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Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Maple and Butter Tarts

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@YakLordReview by @YakLord

7th Oct 2013


Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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After Group B of our Battle of the (Budget) Blended Scotch Whiskies, where Forty Creek's Copper Pot Reserve made an accidental appearance, I decided that I should pick up a bottle. Conveniently, at the same time, the LCBO was running a 'Value-Added' promotion, so in purchasing the bottle of Copper Pot Reserve, I also got a 50ml miniature of Forty Creek's Double Barrel Reserve (sorry, no picture of the mini or one of the glasses...our camera was out of batteries), which was the Special Release for 2009, but which later became part of Forty Creek's regular stable of products.

Of course, I've had issues with plastic miniatures in the past, and so I kept my fingers crossed for this one, since, to be completely honest, I've never been overly impressed with Forty Creek's standard bottling, the Barrel Select, and was worried that, despite my favourable reaction to the Copper Pot Reserve, I'd be disappointed in the Double Barrel Reserve. So, with great trepidation, I cracked open the sealed cap and poured one-third of the bottle (Lot 240, Distiller #54SL46) into each of three glasses: a NEAT, a Glencairn 'Canadian', and one of my newly acquired 'official' Glencairn whisky tasting glasses.

Once the glasses were ready, I swirled each of them, covered them with coasters, and let them sit for a bit. Then I nosed from each, took small sips, nosed again, took slightly larger sips, and then nosed some more. When all the glasses were empty, I let them sit for a few more minutes, then nosed the empty glasses to see what scent remained.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: coppery red

Nose: butter tarts, brown sugar, a tiny bit of acetone (which disappeared quickly), maple (like the icing in maple cookies), some vanilla, a familiar rye spiciness (much like nutmeg), and from the NEAT glass I also picked up a cereal note that reminded me of Cheerios...unfortunately, even the tiniest bit of water overpowered the nose;

Palate: thick and rounded, although not as gentle on the palate as Highwood's Centennial 10yr; spices - ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, some pepper; vanilla and more maple; the addition of water made it more buttery and creamier;

Finish: fairly short, with gingery kick and nice warming sensation; adding a few drops of water seemed to kick up the spices in the finish quite a bit;

Balance: overall, I'd say it was fairly well balanced, and while I would definitely take the Double Barrel Reserve over the Barrel Select, a bottle of Copper Pot Reserve costs less than half of what a bottle of Double Barrel Reserve will run you, and I enjoyed the Copper Pot Reserve a lot more;

Empty Glass: cedar wood shingles, vanilla, nutmeg; and

Final Thoughts: a good whisky, and a fine example of what higher end Canadian whisky can be; good, but not great; certainly, in my experience at least, significantly better than either the Barrel Select or Gibson's Finest 12yr, although not nearly as good as the Copper Pot Reserve or the Centennial 10yr.

As noted above, the Double Barrel Reserve is a bit pricy - $59.95 at the LCBO as of October 7, 2013 - for what it is. The Copper Pot Reserve is less than half of this - $28.45 - and I found it a more enjoyable whisky. So, from an economic point of view, I'd definitely go with the Copper Pot Reserve, but I certainly wouldn't turn down a glass of Double Barrel Reserve if it was offered.

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paddockjudge commented

@YakLord - Very nice review. WHISKY STEWARDSHIP - Try it again in six months, a year, perhaps even eighteen months from now.

Time will be kind to that bottle. It often takes a decade or more to produce a high quality whisky. Although waiting another 5 or 10 weeks, after the bottle has been opened may be an inconvenience, it has become part of my whisky routine - the change can be incredible. Careful stewardship of these bottles will yield added value - Whisky Marginal Utility*.

My first bottle of FC Double Barrel was a disappointment, until I revisited it more than a year later - WOW - it was world class juice. I've had very few negative experiences with opened bottle management. The entire exercise is time consuming, but extremely rewarding. I was recently presented with a bottle of Forty Creek Three Grain; it has been opened for more than four years and probably longer...if you like raisins and butter, you will absolutely love this stuff, it is stellar! This expression is no longer available - I wish I had a case of it.

SUNLIGHT and HEAT are the enemy of whisky. Constant monitoring is required. Decanting, and the use of gas, is sometimes necessary.

I now have 70+ open bottles in my cabinet. I check two or three on most days and can easily visit each bottle on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Large multiples of bottles can be addressed at an extensive tasting, with friends of course!

Nice approach with the different glassware, I often do the same although I don't have a NEAT glass.


*Judge, Paddock et al. (2012) Editorial: Whisky marginal utility and whisky stewardship, profit and exploitation, a paradox. Research In Whisky 37(5), vi-xxi

10 years ago 0

YakLord commented

Thanks for the feedback, @paddockjudge. Given that all I had was a 50ml mini, I'll be unable to give it the stewardship that it needs to improve. It generally takes me 12 to 14 months to move through a bottle (with only 10 to 12 bottles open at a time), so if I do decide to pick up a full 750ml bottle of the Double Barrel, it will certainly have time to improve...

10 years ago 0

JasonHambrey commented

Interesting what you say about this bottle, @paddockjudge. I always ask which whiskies people thought improved with age/oxygen - I notice in my bottles that the sharp lines generally become fuzzy and even in side-by-side tastings of the same batch with bottles, new and opened, I have always found the new better. I have tried at least 4 bottles of these the last 3 years (including this reviewed batch), and all of them were so-so - except one - my sample at forty creek which had been sitting out in a glass for an hour - this one was very good.

However, I haven't generally found double barrel worth the money. And, as @yaklord says, Copper Pot, which I also find superior, is only $28...

9 years ago 0

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