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Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Average score from 12 reviews and 19 ratings 85

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

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Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

It's hard to believe that this is the first review I've written since Dec 25 2020 - over four months ago. For various reasons I took a pause on my whisky passions but I think it's time to get back into it, don't you think? And I've accumulated way too many bottles, so I have to get through these in a more constructive fashion that drinking in front of Friends re-runs on Netflix or Crave. So let's put pen to paper (as they say). The first batch is going to be some of the random Canadian whiskies I have kicking around here, starting with two Forty Creeks.

The first is their small batch release Double Barrel Reserve, which is maybe their next level up from the standard Barrel Select. It's a blend of aged corn, rye and barley whiskies that are then married for up to two years in once-used bourbon barrels. This is from Lot 272.

The colour is a soft medium caramel. Immediately nutty on the nose (macadamia, toasted almonds), lots of vanilla, creme caramel, marshmallow and rich fruits like baked apples and dates. Dark honey. Hint of lemon pepper. Cloves. With water the oak becomes more dominant. Pretty rich but perhaps a bit too sweet - though if you like their house style this is essentially perfection.

On the palate there is more caramel and vanilla, freshly ground cinnamon and lemon zest (it's surprisingly citrusy). Buttery, creamy mouthfeel - even creamier with water. Nice balance between the fruit, oak and spice. Dangerously drinkable.

The finish is BBQ'd corn, black pepper and caramel apple. This is a solid Forty Creek and very indicative of their DNA in all the right directions, though leaning toward a bourbon style. Don't expect anything exceptional like some of their earlier special releases, but for a mid-level Canadian this is excellent value.

I had forgotten that five years ago I had reviewed this bottling, but Lot 240. I scored that one an 82.


I have a couple of new Forty Creeks lying around, both of which I had tasted before but come from (I think) different batches. Let's compare each to the standard Barrel Select.

The Double Barrel, like their standard Forty Creek (and like most Canadian whiskies) mature each component grain (rye, corn and malted barley) separately, in various barrel types. With this one, they marry the whiskies together in ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky (I have no idea which distillery). This is Lot 240 - and also strangely features a Distillery No. 54-SL-253. Anyone know what that means? This comes from a mini that was attached to a bottle of Barrel Select I purchased (primarily to make whisky sours).

The colour is a medium-to-dark copper. On the nose we have toasted nuts (almonds and walnuts), vanilla, toffee, rye spice and coconut. You really get the bourbon barrel influence here. Creme brûlée. Buttered popcorn. Quite soft, but it's a little bit metallic. Water brings out more rye and malt. Better than I remember...

On the palate it's a little astringent and even more metallic (betraying its youth, methinks). Still, it features many of the soft notes that are apparent on the nose, with papaya, rosewater and grapefruit pith. Oakier than the nose. Creamier, and with more caramel, with water. It works but a little less successfully.

The fairly long finish is spicier, a little chalky and too prickly. I had a Double Barrel years ago and didn't like it at all; I'm sure this is from a more recent lot and if so, it has improved. I'm tasting it side-by-side with Barrel Select, and I'm not sure which one I like better. The Double Barrel is softer and nuttier, the Barrel Select more robust and fuller-bodied. I previously scored the Barrel Select an 87 but right now I find them different but fairly equal.

@talexander, Thanks for another set of helpful tasting notes. Head2Head tastings are my favourite. My first bottle of a Forty Creek Special Release was Double Barrel Reserve. It was okay. Eighteen months later when I revisited the bottom half of that bottle it was much improved, creamy and sweet like a Wurther's Original (R).

And after a quick google search, it tErns out that the counterfeits are the wUrthers, the popular candy contains no letter U.


Before posting my review, I looked into the other reviews of this bottling on connosr. The results seemed to match much of my experience of this whisky - the nose is fabulous, and the follow through isn't quite there - except for some batches. But, some ratings are high, some are low.

I've tasted from four different bottles of this, though I only sat down to formally review one (lot no. 240, which @YakLord also reviewed). All of them were decently good, but only one of them was phenomenal - which was a sample I had during a Forty Creek tasting in Grimsby. It had sat in the glass for close to an hour, so I wondered if this whisky in particular improves with some time to sit in the glass (as Forty Creek Heart of Gold certainly does). @paddockjudge has found that a bottle of his drastically improved with some oxygen in the bottle, which could be a similar effect to sitting in a glass for an hour.

But, my hunch with this one has been that it is subject to some batch variation. It is unfortunately expensive, thanks to the price of the highly in-demand bourbon casks, which detracts many - also why I have never bought a full bottle (though I was tempted after that sample last year). Also difficult when there is a superior bottling (in my opinion) from the same brand at less than half the price (Forty Creek Copper Pot).

Here is my review, for lot no. 240, which reflects my general feelings about this bottling.

Nose: The bourbon creates a nice framework for Forty Creek here - the two go together very nicely. You get earthy corn, dried apricot, and caramel added to the usual forty creek aromas of toasted oak and rye. Honey, green pepper, and some good graininess is also present. 83%

Taste: The bourbon makes its way in here as well. And you have rye, toasted oak, vanilla, a slight sweetness, and cinnamon, a touch of clove, and warm spiciness. There are some dried fruits as well - raisins, prunes, and dried apricots. The toasted oak and wonderful subtle sweetness and spiciness is still present, and is wonderful. There are some strawberry notes too. 87%

Finish: dried fruits, spice, and a bit of oak, with pretty good mouthfeel 87%

Intrigue: the nose on this batch wasn't as good as my wonderful sample in Grimsby, but generally the bourbon has done some good and I like this bottling above Barrel Select every time. The cask is very present, but doesn't dominate the Forty Creek style, which I also like. But, it sits pretty low on the pedestal relative to their other special releases (and even Copper Pot!). 85%

Weighting the nose 25%, taste 35%, Finish 15%, and Intrigue 25% the overall grade is 85.

*I have also posted a separate format (with similar tasting content) of this review at whiskywon.wordpress.com/2014/08/…


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.

@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

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...


Nose- Sweet maple, butterscotch and melted caramel. Confectionary notes abound. Ice cream parlor. Teased out some floral notes with light oak and rose petals.

Taste- Creamy sweetness. Vanilla cake with Crème Brulee. Sweet, but perfectly balanced. Herbal notes with cinnamon.

Finish- Medium length. Burst of sweet spice then trails off to buttery caramel and vanilla.

Comment- Double Barrel Reserve excels in all categories. Sweet to be sure, but that sweetness is nicely spread out with supporting flavors providing balance. Highly recommended and quite the delectable bottling. Oh, Canada



Nose: dry and crisp, with a slightly pungent note lurking in the background. Spicy, earthy, a bit of sweetness (vanilla and brown sugar). Subtle yet complex.

Taste: medium-bodied, with the spicy kick of rye as it spreads across the tongue. There is a tangy bite to it, almost vegetal. A different style of Canadian whisky.

Finish: bittersweet, medium length.

Balance: an interesting whisky which seems to show heavier rye character than Barrel Select. Perhaps the absence of sherry wood allows the grains to speak louder. Not my favourite expression from this distillery, especially for the price.

This was nowhere near top-shelf whisky staus in my cabinet - last week I poured myself a taster and was blown away. I poured a very generous second helping and marvelled at how this 3/4 fill bottle had bloomed while resting for almost a year.

I had no intention of replacing this bottle; however, I will be looking to fill the empty spot in the cabinet before long.

@paddockjudge, that is one of those long-term observations which are not possible if a person finishes all of his/her bottles within 3 months...and, if you get a new bottle of Double Barrel, you might have to wait a lot of months to get back what you remembered at the end of that last bottle.


The reviewed sample from batch # 243, bottle # 04388, is courtesy of @paddockjudge. The bottle was opened 7 months ago. This review will be in both sequential (NTFB) and non-sequential format (SQVH)

Nose: strong floral-perfumed maple flavours with a hint of wine grapiness; moderate spice from rye grain is also present. Very nice. Score 23/25 all whiskies; 24/25 Canadian Category

Taste: strong wine flavours with strong flavours from wood, mostly in the bass note range. The maple flavours are not as clear or as refined as they are in the nose. Plenty of nice rye spice flavour is here also, and there is a rich and full mouth feel. Score 21/25 all whiskies; 22/25 Canadian

Finish: quite long, ends on sweet with some bitterness and a touch of sour. Score 20/25; 20/25 Canadian

Balance: I would love this whisky if the palate and the finish were good translations of the nose, which they are not. This is ok, but I'd rather drink the Forty Creek Barrel Select. There is not a lot of harmony here, particularly going into the finish. Score 19/25 all whiskies; 19/25 Canadian

Strength: the flavours are quite strong, but not overpowering, throughout. Score 23/25 all whiskies; 23/25 Canadian Category

Quality: the nose is of very high quality, taken alone. The wood isn't too good on the palate and worse still on the finish. The wine flavours are good, but cannot make up for the not-so-great wood. There is good quality spice from rye identifiable in the mix. Score 20/25 all whiskies; 21/25 Canadian

Variety: there is good variety of flavours among the wine, wood, and grain flavours. Score 22/25 all whiskies; 22/25 Canadian

Harmony: by the time you get to the finish the flavaours are quite out of whack. Score 18/25 all whiskies; 19/25 Canadian

Total NTFB and SQVH Scores 83/100 all whiskies; 85/100 Canadian Category


Kittling Ridge is a young distillery. John K. Hall, who made a career in the wine world, bought the Rieder Distillery in 1992, an eau-de-vie factory, and transformed it into today’s Kittling Ridge Distillery. Hall had first turned it into a winery, but soon started distilling as well. Hence, both whisky and wine casks are maturing side by side in the warehouses. The whisky is brought to market under the Forty Creek label, with the Barrel Select as the flagship. We taste the Double Barrel Reserve, a mix of virgin American oak and first fill bourbon casks from Kentucky.

The nose is very creamy like a butter croissant with extra butter, a hefty helping of maple syrup on top. Deliciously sweet as from brown sugar, quite some pecan and coconut. Freshly cut grass. Something sourish like lemon tart. A lot of caramel, butterscotch and hints of sweet corn. Toated oak, rye bread and dill. Mustard seeds! Wood shavings. This is very complex. Every whiff offers something new.

It is light, but spicy, on the palate. Pepper and vanille. Mustard. Quite alcoholic, honestly. Slightly bitter on walnuts and lemon zest. Then becomes sweeter on violets (the hard, purple candy). But it cannot fulfil the promise of the nose.

The finish is very long, honeysweet and spicy.

The nose is truly magnificent, but on the palate it does not follow through. Pity. But still a wonderful whisky. With thanks to my Canadian friend Jean-Francois for the sample.


Drunk neat.

Nose: Quite a sweet nose, made of maple syrup and caramel, with a slight toasted oak in the background.

Taste: The arrival is very sweet, very easy to drink. Again, it's caramel and maple that comes through, with the rye appearing at the end with a little prickling of the tongue.

Finish: A nice warmth, if rather short, with some spiciness and toasted oak dryness.

Balance: It's sweet, with little to balance it. It's an easy drink, and probably a good way to introduce newcomers to whisky.

I like it, but I have to consider that, for the price in Québec ($61), you can buy a real bourbon instead of a whisky aged in a bourbon cask.

I tried it again tonight, and I must say I have been a bit too hard on that whisky. The nose and taste are really good, with maple syrup dominating over a background of rye spices. The finish and balance, however, are still only decent. Gone from 81 to 85.


After being held gently by Forty Creek's "barrel Select" and then being taken on a journey by their "Confederation Oak" I had a tingling in my spine and a thirst (to sip) for more. The only direction for me to go was to land a bottle of "Double Barrel Reserve."

This whiskey was meant to be a limited release but was so well received that the folks over at the distillery in Grimsby Ontario decided to make it a permanent part of their line. (Lets hope that they take this route with the 'Confederation Oak')

Nose:Much stronger than bother "Confederation Oak" and the "Barrel Select". The Kentucky Bourbon casks have definately affected the aroma of this whisky. After a few minutes of allowing the whisky to settle down and open up some wonderful notes begin to show themselves: Sweet corn and toastd nuts. There is a fruit combination in the background that I think includes, apricot and banana. (I was pleased with the banana!). There is a slight hint of rye spice on the nose that tingles much liek but not as strong as "Confederation Oak" and there is a particular accent of something 'green' about this nose. I can't put m finger on it. Maybe some spear mint, fresh grass or green tea leaves? (I suggest you look for it yourself and educate me. Moving on-

Pallet:The pallet is strong and scintilating! The flavor of the bourbon casks lead the charge on the tongue and then give way to the traditional "Barrel Select" flavors come through but are held up by the complexties of this whisky. The corn and barley notes carry through with the sweetness of the corn holding up the barley and giving away to the spice of the rye. Beyone that is the banana I smelled on the nose and the apricot comes up along with some gentle christmas orange. Some nuttiness shows its flavors as well; pecan or hazelnut.

There are more flavors that reveal and change as the finish carries and thins in layers over a minute or so. This whisky changes over the more time it spends in the glass and this is an example of when finishing barrels are used correctly. Some Sherry, bourbon, portwood, finishes tend to kill or over sweeten a spirit but this "Double Barrel Reserve" is just enough to create depth and complexity.

This is one that I am sure will change as the bottle empties and as oxidization takes place. I would decant it but I want to see how it goes. This will always be on my shelf!! Enjoy! (59$)

I hate to comment on ym own review btu I forgot to say the glass smells like toasty oak and brown sugar. Cheers!!


my second review of a forty creek whiskey. And this one's is event better then the first.

The nose is lace with orange and wood. A touch of spices is there as well and a smooth sweetness.

The body is thicker then the barrel select, creamier.

Leaving it settle in the glass for a while brings something I though was unusual: a nice saltiness. Strange but true. And I get it sip after sip. The initial hit is sweet then soft salt notes arrive. Then we get spices. The finish is all about the wood: spicy and dry. Pretty dry. But good. And the after taste is mandarin with a wood dryness that is so good.

I keep thinking about 3 highland malts: the orange and salt is old pultney but less floral, we get also the some of the sweet saltiness of Clynelish but no wax nor too much esters, and the dry final is reminiscent of highland park, without the smoke. Yes, that's it: it is a Canadian highlander. You don't believe me? Try it! You see? you see? Right, eh? ( Canadian pun intended)

Yes it's good, yes better then the barrel select. My only gripe is the price: in Quebec it's twice what I paid for the barrel select in Ontario. That means it's about the same as the HP or Old Pultney 12 YO. And yet it only needed a truck to be delivered, not a plane nor a boat as well. And that's to me is it's only draw back.

Years ago I bought a bottle of this from the very first batch ever released when it was supposed to be a limited edition run. It was the first legal booze purchase I made in Ontario when I was 19. I still haven't opened it, although this review is making it hard not to open it.

Sorry if I did not get my point across better: the dbl barrel is better then the barrel select, but not twice better. Thus my comment about the price. A little like jw blue is better then the black, but never 5 times better.

As for the delivery, that part of the argument was to compare the dbl barrel to HP12 or the Old Pulteney 12 which are both about the same price as the forty creek.

Still a good whisky. A damn good one.


Recently, the Forty Creek distillery of Grimsby, Ontario, released their latest expression, Canadian Oak Reserve. Over the launch weekend, I toured the facility and returned home with bottles to complete my stock of the current Forty Creek lineup: Barrel Select, Three Grain, Double Barrel Reserve, and Canadian Oak Reserve. Following in the footsteps of several distinguished members of the Connosr community, I will review each of these expressions over the coming days. Below is a lengthy preamble of Forty Creek’s method; feel free to skip it in order to get to the review that follows.

All Forty Creek whiskies are some blend of maize, rye, and barley, though the ages and proportions are somewhat variable. There are no age statements on any Forty Creek release; the consistency of an expression (particularly Barrel Select) is maintained by tasting. They use two copper pot stills—the larger of the pair modified by a short, stainless steel column that keeps alcohol concentrations high (at about 65%)—and they use only the first distillate. Their rye barrels are lightly charred, barley barrels are medium-charred, and maize barrels are heavily charred (also known as an “alligator” char).

Forty Creek’s owner and master distiller is John Hall, a winemaker by trade. In the making of Forty Creek whisky, Hall has taken advantage of his vintner’s background in several ways. He founded Kittling Ridge, a winery, to provide funds while his Forty Creek spirits began to mature, and he makes use of the winery’s Kingsgate Reserve sherry casks to finish Barrel Select, Forty Creek’s basic expression.

Most importantly, however, Hall’s training led to a simple, but revolutionary, method of whiskymaking. In the production of whisky (from multiple grains), the different grain spirits tend to be combined prior to maturation—a mashbill, for instance, of some proportion of maize, rye, and barley fermented, distilled, and aged together. The grain profiles are thus confounded with one another, such that the moment at which one spirit (such as the maize) achieves its desired profile may not correspond to that of the others (such as the rye and barley). Hall gets around this problem by employing a winemaker’s method, in the Bordeaux and meritage traditions, for each of his Forty Creek releases: maturing each spirit in barrels separately before blending. Once a barrel has achieved its desired profile, the spirit is transferred to stainless steel tanks for holding until the other spirits are ready for blending. Once blended, the final spirit is re-barreled from a period of several months to several years, to finish the whisky and round the final product out.


Double Barrel Reserve has been re-barreled in first-fill Kentucky bourbon barrels. It is both a large jump up in quality and in price ($60 Canadian for 750 ml) from Barrel Select and Three Grain.

The nose is charmingly complex. At times, it is bright and grassy, with dill and toasty rye notes, but there is also Chantilly cream, French toast slathered in butter, sweet corn, hints of cola and charcoal, maple, pecans, and brown sugar. It is wonderfully balanced and enticing.

On the palate are toasted walnuts, maple and vanilla, butter, toasted rye, limes, and ground pepper. It is bright and sweet (though less cloying than Barrel Select and Three Grain), and spicy. The finish is slow and deliberate, sweetness mounting on the tongue.

The body coats the glass considerably more thickly than Barrel Select or Three Grain, but the mouthfeel is still fairly light.

Double Barrel Reserve is a delightful dram, one that is leading the way towards Canadian whisky expressions that are complex, sophisticated, and unique.

Thanks, gents! (Wait, actually: @LeFrog, you are a gent, right? Unfortunately, I don't know how to sex a frog from a picture!) Forty Creek is a pretty interesting distillery, and reviewers like John Hansell and Jim Murray are taking notice. I'll have one last review for you all tomorrow...

Just bought a bottle from what seems like the only SAQ in Quebec that carries it. Great mouth feel. Smooth and sweet without being cloying. I don't usually like to put ice/water in my whisky, but it really opened it up.

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