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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.