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Forty Creek Evolution

80 Creek - Part I

0 2070

@talexanderReview by @talexander

23rd Nov 2014

0

  • Nose
    19
  • Taste
    16
  • Finish
    18
  • Balance
    17
  • Overall
    70

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Today we're going to look at two Forty Creeks (so Eighty Creek?), both fairly new. Our first one is their annual limited edition (their 8th so far), launched in September 2014. Most of the whiskies in 2014 Evolution are twelve years old, having been aged for three years in American White Oak, then actually re-distilled in a copper pot still. That spirit was then matured for nine years in French Oak casks that previously held Cabernet Sauvignon. Note however that the wine was actually Canadian, and was made by Forty Creek whisky maker John Hall (he is originally a winemaker, and Forty Creek used to be part of his Kittling Ridge winery). Then he threw in some whisky from other barrels, because why not? Only 9000 bottles exist; this is the first of their limited editions since Forty Creek was purchased by Campari in March 2014 for $CDN185.6 million.

The colour is a deep copper with blood orange highlights. On the nose, a mixture of rich dark fruits and berries: black cherries, figs, blackberries and rum-raisin. Vegetal, even a little mossy; add in the oak and you have a damp forest floor. A bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and tobacco. There is some vanilla back there, but fruit is the dominant note here. Add a few drops of water and finally the rye shows up to make an appearance! There is complexity here but overall seems a little flabby somehow.

On the palate, even fruitier. Extremely sweet with red grape (the Cab Sauv is front and centre now), raspberry and blueberry. And...not much else. Far less complexity than the nose, and completely dominated by the wine influence. Water helps bring some rye and spices forward, but not nearly enough. The wine overwhelms everything, unfortunately.

The finish is spicy with pepper and ground ginger, but still very winey. Well, this a major disappointment. Forty Creek is perhaps the most innovative distillery in Canada - and certainly the creation of this whisky speaks of innovation and experimentation. But the wine influence is so overwhelming that I wouldn't be surprised if he actually dumped some wine into the whisky itself (which you could legally do in Canada). About the wine: there's a reason Kittling Ridge isn't around anymore. It's terrible. John Hall was not a good wine maker (though he's usually an excellent whisky maker). Of course, I can't speak for the particular wine used in this one, but all of the Kittling Ridge wines I've had before were awful. I already have an aversion to wine finishes, but if you are going to do one - use decent wine, for God's sake.

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20 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@talexander, thanks very much for your review. I will definitely sample this one before considering it for purchase. Experiments yield a wide range of results.

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I'm happy to provide you with a sample, the next time I see you!

5 years ago 0

@65glenfarclas
65glenfarclas commented

Nice review of the Evolution. So, the bad taste in my mouth from my small sample (at LCBO Summerhill) wasn't the result of aftertaste from lunch after all.

IMO, last year's special edition (Heart of Gold) was bad (metalic taste did not sit well with me), Evolution is worse.

Experimentation is cool but re-distilling aged whisky (at 3 years legal Canadian Whisky) is code for covering up a mistake (either poor initial distillation and/or bad casks).

Your comment about Kittling Ridge is interesting (I've never tasted any of them) considering how much JH and his fans play up his wine making skills.

Anyway, I think Forty Creek is bit overrated and there is no reason to spend $70 on this expression.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Sorry to disagree. Although I will acknowledge that Evolution is not the best special release I've had, I think it's pretty good. Just "different".

And I think I like Heart of Gold best if all, though I haven't done a head to head with any others.

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

For the record, I do love Heart of Gold. @65glenfarclas, I don't know if the re-distillation was to cover anything up, or simply to try to do something innovative. In any case, I do love this distillery and genuinely hope that this expression - and their flavoured whisky - are not a harbinger of things to come under Campari.

5 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

Innovation and creativity are synonymous with John Hall. Hopefully this trend will carry forward with Capari.

Evolution is not my favourite Forty Creek expression. I am prepared to accept that this was a noble try at attempting the impossible - to create a great whisky with a red wine finish.

I'm not offended by Evolution; however, I am disappointed that this is not a great whisky. Secretariat didn't win every race he ran. Babe Ruth struck out more times than he hit home runs. Brown-Forman released Collingwood 21 YO and John Hall created Evolution.

Forty Creek will release another Limited Edition next year. Until then, I'll broaden my whisky knowledge by revisiting some FC expressions including sipping on some Evolution...I think a second pour is called for - Cheers!

5 years ago 0

@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey commented

The conversation doesn't surprise me, as Evolution is certainly an interesting one...I didn't expect to like Evolution much because I also am not keen on wine finishes. But, I found it absolutely brilliant, and that has not changed over successive tastings - to my palate, it's among the best Canadian whiskies I've ever tasted. But also one of the most unique - and I am not surprised it doesn't take to some people. This really goes to show how different our palates are in terms of what we enjoy and appreciate in whisky.

As for re-distillation, it is something John Hall has done before, it's not new. It can be done to cover up mistakes, but if you re-distill an aged whisky it allows you a chance to impart wood flavours into the spirit while also being able to filter out some of the heavier (or lighter) flavours imparted by the wood, which gives even more flexibility in crafting a whisky which has more fruit notes, or more grain notes. Certainly an interesting tactic you don't see often with aged whisky.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I hope to be able to make it to the next whisky weekend, and see if there is something of interest to add to my FC collection. I suspect the availability, innovation, or quality will be reduced if Campari decides this has to be a bigger run for international sales.

But I have enough Evo and HoG to keep me happy for many years to come...

5 years ago 0

@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey commented

me too...I'm still hoping John's Private Cask no. 2 comes before too long

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

LOVE John's Private Cask No. 1! Why did he number it if there is no No. 2? Good question to ask him next year!!

5 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

There is no doubt Evolution is a very complex whisky and will be received differently than previous special releases.

With the lack of response to Evolution from whisky critics, I suspect we may see John's Private Stash #2, sooner, rather than later....and I wouldn't be surprised to see more than one Limited Edition per year at some point.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

All this talk, and I still haven't had a taste of the notorious Evolution.

5 years ago 0

Astroke commented

@victor I have an unopened bottle I found discounted for $56, its yours! I did go through a bottle over a period of time and some days I thought it was ok and other days I could not get through a glass. 86 proof wine. Very polarizing among reviewers. I have seen a 94/100 and now a 70/100. I think the Rumhowler gave it a 75/100.

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I have a few bottles of this and I have to admit I rarely reach for it but looking long term I think I have enough to last a lifetime and sealed bottles don't go bad. I do enjoy it...might reach for it soon having been reminded...

I was lucky to rid myself of 4 of the 7 bottles of Harmony I acquired (one as a gift - my brother's birthday bottle number), and have one open, one to sip and one signed by Hall to save.

3 years ago 0

Astroke commented

@Nozinan, I was lucky and only grabbed the G&W 4 Grain for $25 less. Meh.

Why not just revise the Private Cask or Portwood Reserve instead of trying to re-invent the wheel every year?

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

well, @Astroke, why not indeed? If I had the answer...I'd be John Hall,. I asked him 2 years ago when Evolution was introduced about possible releasing a CS whisky. People would go nuts about it. He felt it wouldn't allow everyone to taste it the same way (some would add more water than others). So what?

Harmony suggests that the pipeline of special whisky may be dry. It may well be time for Campari to haul Hall back into the mixing room... or even better, hire @paddockjudge to blend something awesome.

3 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

I would be happy to be second in line behind @JasonHambrey. I've tried his 'house blend' and it is without a doubt one of the finest blends I have ever sampled.

3 years ago 0

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