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Forty Creek Heart of Gold

Average score from 6 reviews and 6 ratings 89

Forty Creek Heart of Gold

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Forty Creek Heart of Gold

Although I rarely get to Forty Creek whiskies now that there are so many open bottles in my cabinet, and I’ve been more preoccupied with Wiser’s / Corby’s on the Canadian front, this is probably my favourite of the FC special releases (This was released, I believe, in 2013). @Paddockjudge was instrumental in helping me to accumulate a few of these as I entered the game a little late. Interestingly, I have reviewed later expressions but never this one.

I opened my second bottle of this on October 1, 2017, to celebrate the election of Jagmeet Singh as the leader of my party. He had run on a slogan of “Love and Courage” and I had chosen this bottle as the one that would best symbolize his victory.

Fast forward to Sept. 18 (still here in Toronto). I got a call from party HQ asking me to please say yes to being a candidate. I’d be running against 2 other doctors and because an independent MP is running for re-election all eyes will be on this riding on election night.

Today I put on my “election suit” and went to a rally with the leader. I’d met him before but this time we got to chat and take photos together. So coming home, as I work to get my “candidate stuff” in order (and do some charting - I still have to work for a living), I decided it was a fitting time to post a review of this whisky.

This expression is reviewed in a Highland glass my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.

Nose: 22/25

Rich caramel and syrup, rye spices, apples and other fruit in the background. A little hot. Very nice nose. Minimal difference with water.

Taste: 22/25

Sweet arrival, with lots of spices in the development. I get sweet, cooked apples. Nice, thick, slightly oily mouthfeel. A little alcohol nip. This has rich flavour. Water makes it even richer with a mouth feel (not the taste) like the honey left at the bottom of your teacup. (23/25)

Finish: 21/25

Quite short, a little sweet with some pepper in the throat.

Balance: 23/25

Beautifully balanced, both between nose and palate and within the palate

Score: Neat - 88/100 With Water: 89/100

Overall score based on enjoyment: 90/100

One of the downsides of having so many good whiskies in my cabinet is that I don’t get back to some of them as often as I like. On the plus side, it’s like discovering a gem all over again.

I hope I enjoy the campaign as much as I enjoy this whisky!

I've not seen or heard of any of this in NZ. Reading your review it sounds a bit meh, but then you give it 90 - it must have some hidden beauty there?

8 years after purchase I still have not yet opened my bottle of Forty Creek Heart of Gold. But I am very happy to have it!


This is a review of a sample graciously provided by @Nozinan on Nov 13/17. The bottle was opened Oct 1/17, was 4/5 full when the sample was poured and the bottle has been gassed. If I got any of that wrong, I will correct it later. Or the good doctor will.

I’m drinking this from a Glencairn and will not be adding water. I should note that unlike other reviews I have done, I know almost nothing about this whisky. I’m truly tasting blind, having done no research on this offering.

  • Nose: Butterscotch, caramel popcorn with some oak spices peeking through, mostly cinnamon. After awhile in the glass (about 30 minutes), the butterscotch is much more like dark brown sugar and the oak is a bit more present, but not overwhelming.
  • Palate: rich and full arrival, this feels almost like an Irish single pot still whiskey in my mouth, albeit less spicy. More caramel popcorn, Werther’s Original hard candies, and a wonderful (though subtle) brown sugar/rum and raisin note develops after awhile in the glass.
  • Finish: medium length, a tad shorter than I hoped it would be, there’s a bit of salt on the finish, salted caramel perhaps, developping to toasted and buttered cinnamon raisin bread. At the tail end of the finish, there’s a bit of a mildly bitter, tannic note, but it isn’t unpleasant; it almost feels cleansing.

This is a very good whisky. I really like it and if it were widely available, I’d probably keep it on hand more often than not. I can’t imagine having more than one or two drams in a sitting though. It isn’t cloyingly sweet (like the “new” Black Bottle is) but a little goes a long way, like crème brûlée or tiramisu. I would recommend this to anyone who likes the Forty Creek style, as this is a great example of that style. It honestly reminded me of a great batch of the Copper Pot Reserve, with everything turned up to eleven.

Great review! You got the details right, and some great notes.

There are some (or at least there is ONE) who would say that this is the best special release in the Forty Creek cannon. A shame it can't be found anymore. I'm thankful I picked up a couple and even more grateful to @Paddockjudge who helped to supply me with a few more, including the bottle from which this sample was poured.

It should be noted (and probably will be if I should ever get around to my own review of this) that this bottle was opened in honour of the "Love and Courage" theme upon the election to leadership of our current leader of the NDP.


This review is a bit late...but the 2013 special release from John Hall at Forty Creek is certainly fabulous and after a recent tasting I wanted to post a review. It is a whisky worth spending quite a bit of time with, especially as it gets much better as it airs (I recommend, along with many others, to let it sit half an hour and see how it improves!)

Nose: Sharp, grassy rye in a way that is not usually presented and one which I have mainly found in new makes. There are also aromas of sourdough, and, surprisingly, lasagna. The creamy and floral nature of the whisky, I suppose, lend itself to such an aroma. It certainly is full of complexity and intrigue. 93%

Taste: Not as sweet as many of the other forty creek whiskies, which took a few people at my table by surprise. Again, the sharp, grassy, and spicy rye shines through and it is smooth in the middle of the palate. It has an interesting citrus note as well, which one of the reviewers pointed out, rightly, to be marmalade. additionally, it is floral as advertised. 90%

Finish: Long and lingering, and also unique - not generic. After I had tasted all of the other 8 whiskies in the lineup, the heart of gold was the finish which remained, and I could tell it was from the heart of gold because of the quality of rye flavour left in the mouth. 93%

Intrigue: I love the uniqeness of this whisky, and certainly it is different from any presentation of forty creek beforehand. I love it for its complexity and uniqueness, but it certainly might be a bit different for many. Worth seeking out - or (perhaps even more so!) making a friend with a bottle. 95%

Weighting the nose 25%, taste 35%, Finish 15%, and Intrigue 25% the overall grade is 93.

I believe it is my favourite of the special releases. If would be nice to see something similar released by Hall in the future


Heart of Gold is Forty Creek's 2013 annual limited release. Only 9000 bottles exist of this whisky, which is more rye-forward than distiller John K. Hall's other releases, and is matured in toasted oak barrels. This is not 100% rye though, but is also made from corn and malted barley. The lot number for all 9000 bottles is 1972 (the year Neil Young's single "Heart of Gold" came out). I was at Forty Creek's annual Whisky Weekend when this was released, where we tasted it alongside other expressions, toured the distillery and warehouse and generally had an amazing time! The after parties, where we sat around drinking whisky and shooting the shit with Johanne McInnis, Mark Gillespie and Davin de Kergommeaux, among others, will not be forgotten...

The colour is a reddish copper. On the nose, extremely fruity with raspberries, peaches and apricots. Very nutty too, with hazelnuts and almonds. Some patchouli: you're in a hemp store in Kensington Market. Cardamom. A little floral, but not too much. Strangely, water seems to do little with the nose here.

On the palate, much spicier than the nose, with more Canadian rye notes coming forward. Creamy mouthfeel. Lots of ginger and toasted oak livening up the vanilla and butterscotch. Water makes it even creamier and spicier.

The finish has more nutmeg and cinnamon, and some dry mustiness, with late-arriving pencil shavings. While not quite on the level of Confederation Oak or John's Private Cask #1, this is another excellent annual release from Forty Creek, well worth seeking out, especially if you are a rye fanatic.

I quite like it. I've gotten used to cask strength whiskies so this was a little thin in terms of mouth feel, but still quite full of flavour. I think it's as good as the Portwood reserve (but different) and maybe as good as the confederation oak. I haven't tried the newer releases of confed. to compare.

It's pretty complex, especially the nose.

In any event, a good dram for a quiet evening when you don't want to think too much.

Understood, @GotOak91. Not liking Canadian whisky is a bit like not liking horror or science-fiction movies: there are some excellent ones that you might appreciate, but if you just don't like the genre, you just don't like it. As with my love with all things film, there are aspects of all whiskies that I love, including Canadian - but that ain't everyone. I love Forty Creek, but there are whiskies I love from Corby's, Alberta and Highwood that I love too...


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!

@CanadianNinja - I did purchase a bottle solely because of the name: the starship that Zaphod Beeblebrox stole. ;)

Well, that and it has been getting very good reviews, and I very much enjoyed Forty Creek's Copper Pot Reserve (Barrel Select and Double Barrel Reserve not so much, though).

After further thought... the jammy notes in the finish are actually now reminding me more of a tawny port. If anyone out there has some insight on the casks used for this whisky, I'm very curious to know.


Forty Creek is the life’s work of wine maker turned whisky maker, John Hall. This whisky-savant’s artisanal expressions are truly unique and have become marked by a style that is now unmistaken.

Today’s nosing is of Forty Creek Heart of Gold Canadian Whisky Limited Edition bottle 8998 of 9000, 43%abv 750ml. It comes in an elegant, yet sturdy clear glass bottle with a cork stopper and an eye-catching black cardboard sleeve. The heavily weighted base, rounded shoulders, long neck and stretched-flask style body make for an easy pour.

This September 2013 limited release was launched at Forty Creek World Headquarters in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada and is from Lot 1972; coincidentally, 1972 is the year that iconic Canadian rocker Neil Young released the highly acclaimed album ‘Harvest’ which featured the chart topping single ‘Heart of Gold’ (well played Mr. Hall) with the angelic sounds of James Taylor and Lind Ronstadt providing backup vocals.

Nose: Open bottle permeates the air with rum-soaked raisins and apricots. In the glass – McIntosh toffee, cherry cola, and green grapes followed by cinnamon, clove oil, peaches, moscovado and a hint of mint/lavender and very faint anice. 24/25

Palate: Buttery goodness and sweet sun-dried Thompson raisins. Prunes and a hint of espresso followed by herbal notes of dried chopped basil. Grapefruit pithiness accompanied by ginger and a light dusting of pepper which dances from the tip of the tongue to the back pallet and through the exit, into the finish. 23/25

Finish: Medium dry finish with a hint of maple syrup and the lingering bitterness of citric pith, ginger and more pepper…. all the while taunting me to repeat the process…and I do. 22/25

Balance: This whisky showcases the spicy and flavourful characteristics of Canadian rye grain, which are too often muted by wood derived congeners. Corn and barley play a backup role and lend a meatiness and creaminess; although subtle oak is present, one cannot help but detect similarities to cognac, which is likely a result of the use of wine barrels (sherry) for finishing. There is some kind of magic happening here; never before have I tasted a rye forward whisky with this level of complexity. 23/25

This is a ‘must have’ whisky. With a limited release of 9,000 bottles; 1,200 in Texas, 720 in Ontario, and a few thousand at the launch, that leaves approximately 5,000 bottles for the rest of the world. Next September cannot come soon enough.

Here is a link to Neil Young performing the studio version of ‘Heart of Gold’.


@JasonHambrey - Yes, a very unique, intriguing, complex, and delicious whisky is 'Heart of Gold'.

I am excited for the arrival of 'Evolution' the 2014 limited release and hoping John Hall has nailed another of his signature offerings. Red wine finishes are not common and likely because it is difficult to marry whisky and a red wine...if it can be done successfully, John Hall is one of the few who can pull it off. I've placed my bet by pre-ordering a dozen; that's a wager nearing a thousand dollars.

It would be nice to meet you in September at Whisky Weekend in Grimsby...last year was a great time - won't drop names for fear of leaving out someone - there was a solid group of Connosr members in attendance and a lot of other fantastic people from the whisky community.


This is a fantastic review! Super well written. And spot on. An excellent Canadian whisky, though I haven't opened my bottle yet, I remember exactly how it tasted (though how I remember anything from that weekend is beyond me).

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