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I'll preface these notes to say the praise Forty Creek is getting as of late is, in my opinion, over-stated.
As far as Canadian whiskey goes, I think there is very little to get excited about (and I'm a proud Canadian). Most that I've tried are either only palatable when drown in coke or ginger ale, or just plain uninteresting.
Forty Creek "Heart of Gold" stands out as a bright light amongst throngs of rather dull contemporaries. It's the first expression from this distillery that, in my opinion, is a truly inspired success.
Notes on the packaging state the aim with this whisky was to produce a delicate, complex rye-forward whiskey which captured some of the subtle notes that get often lost in bolder ryes. (paraphrased)
Let's get to the tasting notes...
Nose: A fairly restrained nose on this at first--christmas cake and some sharp grain spirit. It takes warming in the hands to get a sense of what this whiskey has to offer. When warm, I'm getting bolder christmas cake notes, with chocolate, cinnamon wood, honeyed ginger, a hint of rose water, and a faint whiff of raisin cream pie.
Taste: Christmas cake drizzled with toffee and chocolate. Really nice mouth-feel. A creamy sweetness that gives way to the spices any rye-lover craves--predominantly cinnamon wood.
Finish: Surprisingly long for a Canadian blend. Cinnamon wood notes stick around without getting too bitter or dry. Faint clove in there too as the cinnamon recedes. Ends on a jammy note that solidifies my suspicions that there are some sherry casks at work in the mix.
A pleasant surprise, and a damned good step in the right direction for Canadian whiskeys!