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Evolution is the 2014 special release from Forty Creek. As explained by the "Creator" of "Evolution", the whisky was originally aged 3 years then re-distilled and aged further, being finished in red wine casks.
This review comes after an initial tasting at the distillery. Tonight I opened a new bottle and reviewed it from a Glencairn Glass. The notes with water are entered in parallel to the neat notes, but occurred after 1-2 cc were added and the dram was left to sit for 20-30 minutes.
Neat - First thing that hits me is Niagara Cabernet Franc icewine. Rich, warm, sweet and fruity. Then I get notes of Chocolate, a hint of almond extract (which I despise but it does not detract here), also a bare whiff of butterscotch and vanilla, and the smell of raspberries that are just starting to ferment (?rot), in a good way...
With water - the nose becomes more one-dimensional with just the icewine nose. After about an hour a whiff of chocolate. I prefer the nose neat.
Neat - chocolate, sherry, sweet red wine, a very predominant wine influence on the palate. Hint of bourbon/vanilla, some fig/prune in the background
Water adds a slight tartness to it and I lose the chocolate. It increases the spiciness. I like the taste with water but I prefer it neat.
Finish - sherry, spice, sweet, Lasts longer than other non-single malts I've tried. Leaves you with some dry wine tannins coating your mouth. Nothing unpleasant here.
Balance: It is a bit heavy on the wine influence and a bit sweet.
In summary this is an excellent result for John Hall. I find it very different from last year's release, and no less or more enjoyable (though it may be helpful to put 2 or more special releases head to head). The more I drink this first dram from the bottle, the more I like it, but unlike the Heart of Gold and particularly the Confederation Oak and the Portwood, this is not a dram to just drink absent-mindedly. I think it asks for and deserves some attention. Sure, read, talk, watch TV, but when you raise your glass to your nose or lips, it's worth focusing on it.