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Nine years ago yesterday was the greatest day of my life: my beautiful daughter Maggie was born in Belleville ON. Back then my life was very different than it is now: I was heavier, not-so-happily married, and whisky was little more than something I never gave more than a second thought to. Maggie came to me like a warm bright light and has shone through the next nine years (and continues to), and each year after that has made me happier and happier.
Last year I ordered a bottle of Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve, Bottle #0406 (April 6, get it?) I had planned to open it on Maggie's 9th birthday, but I ended up procuring another bottle (#0703, the number is of no significance) to enjoy with some friends last fall. So I've decided to taste this from the open bottle - and I'll save #0406 for her 10th.
Forty Creek distiller John Hall is also a winemaker - and port maker. His vintage ports are from Niagara grown grapes and aged in heavily charred white oak barrels. This whisky, after being matured (each grain being matured in separate barrels) is then married together in these used port barrels for another two years. Note that this lot (#061) is Forty Creek's 2nd release of Port Wood Reserve (6600 bottles were produced).
The colour is dark red copper. The nose is extremely fruity: blood oranges, raspberries, cherries, apricots and some tropical fruit. Behind that is sweet cotton candy (a prominent note in Forty Creek's Confederation Oak), caramel and vanilla. Rye notes are popping out as well. Milk chocolate spiced with cinnamon and cloves . A rich, luxurious nose. As is often the case with Canadian whiskies, a little water brings out the rye grain.
The palate is silky soft with dark dried fruit, spices as above but with some pepper as well. Turkish Delight, more orange and vanilla with a background of oak. Water brings out more spicy rye notes, with cumin and black cherry. Delicious!
The finish is long but not overpowering, with crisp rye spices, gentle caramel and hints of delicate port, with lingering wood smoke. This bottle has been open since the fall, and this dram comes from the last fifth left. When I tasted it back then, I enjoyed it but now it is really pretty incredible. Beautifully rich and luxurious, and sweet enough to make it seem natural to taste it at 10:30am on a Sunday morning. Note Jim Murray scores this a 95.5, if that interests you. It's the perfect whisky to celebrate that incredible day, nine short years ago. Happy Birthday Maggie!