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Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve

Average score from 5 reviews and 5 ratings 90

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve

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Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve

I've got mixed feelings about Forty Creek. John Hall helped shape a Canadian whisky revival, but FC's offerings are notoriously inconsistent in my experience. I've tasted some batches of bottom shelf Forty Creek Barrel Select that were phenomenal, and some that should never have passed quality control. The Copper Pot Reserve has even wider batch variations in my experience, with some of it tasting like vodka served in a glass that previously contained whisky, and some batches tasting like pure heaven. Oy! The Port Wood Reserve, to my knowledge, is no longer available, so I was fortunate to receive a sample and try one of the most sought-after bottles on the Canadian interweb...

Sample provided by @Nozinan 45% abv, bottle opened in 2012, gassed after each use, and sample poured on April 18, 2018.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): Werther's Original hard caramels, plums, cocoa powder, cinnamon, orange zest, dates, figs, and a bit of oak spices
  • Palate (undiluted): rich and sweet on arrival, wonderful "fat" texture, plenty of rich dark toffee, brown sugar, figs, dates, oranges, a bit of oak
  • Finish: medium length, dark chocolate, salted toffee (Skor bars?), plums, figs, with oranges lingering

Why aren't more Forty Creek whiskies bottled at 45%? Why don't they make more whisky like the Port Wood Reserve? Forty Creek makes some very good whisky, but this is another level. This is rich, dark, fruity, chocolatey, with absolutely no spirit-driven bitterness, which creeps into some batches of the Barrel Select and Copper Pot Reserve. Tasting this whisky was a bittersweet experience. It highlights what Forty Creek CAN be when things go right. But it also brings into sharp relief the areas where the distillery is lagging: quality control.

Nice review. I notice I scored this 84 in or around 2012 but I think my impression of it since would be higher.

@Nozinan I had this after the Wiser’s Last Barrels, so I’m not sure how this would taste on a “clean” palate, but it felt really rich and decadent. It made me angry about every bad bottle of Barrel Select/Copper Pot I’ve had. Quality control seems to be all over the place at Forty Creek the past two years. This whisky shows just how good FC can be.


I don't often write reviews; however, after opening my fourteenth bottle of this rare beauty, I feel compelled to share my enjoyment.

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve 2012 Lot 61, (45% abv) Bottle 615/ 6600.

I opened this bottle about a month ago, just as I was stricken with a crippling cough and respiratory infection. One dram was poured from this bottle, but it was lost on me as my palate was, for lack of a better word, paralyzed. That tough patch is behind me and I'm well on my way to testing my palate again.

The aromas rising from the Canadian Glencairn glass possess a delicious density. Bumbleberry pie - dusty cocoa - honey, tea, and almonds much like a decades old Montecristo - exotic spices. The port influence is unmistakable. All are very inviting.

With a promise this big, is it possible to reach the suggested level of greatness? I am reminded of expressions that project greatness, but fall flat on delivery. This particular expression is very nearly unbelievable. It is Beautiful. Voluptuous. Sexy. To borrow from The J. Geils Band; My blood runs cold / My memory has just been sold / My angel is a centerfold / Angel is a Centerfold.

This beauty has it all. Any better and it would be obscene.

Freshly picked berries, both sweet and tart. Raisins, walnut skins, faint prickly pepper and amazing rye spiciness. The port is abundant, yet not overwhelming. This is an explosion of flavour, big and juicy. Did I mention the high quality dark chocoalte? This is a very complex whisky.

The balance is near perfect. The exit is clean. Dry with mild heat and continuing spiciness. Silky and supple. The sweet fruit lingers and Habanos tobacco returns amidst a wave of faint anise bitterness. Even the finish has balance.

This whisky is a testament to the creativity of John Hall, the self-proclaimed 'whisky maker' and now referred to as 'The Founder' of Forty Creek. A true masterpiece from this whisky savant.

OK, but do you like it?

It took fourteen bottles for me to pen a review. It's not bad at all.


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!

Happy Birthday dear Maggie...Tom, save the numbered bottle for a few more years and share a dram from it with your lovely daughter. Even if she hates it, the fact that you've saved it for so long will make it pretty special. Just a though...

There are only a few dozen bottles of the Port Wood Reserve remaining on LCBO shelves yet we are still 5 months away from the annual Forty Creek Limited Release. I've tucked away a few of these gems for a rainy day.


Thanks to @paddockjudge for the reviewed samples, which are from lot 061, bottle # 3486. The reviewed bottle has been open for 6 weeks

This review is in non-sequential format (SQVH); for more information on this format see my review and comments on Royal Canadian Small Batch

Strength: very strong flavours of Port wine, wood, and spicy rye on nose, palate, and finish. Score 24/25 all whiskies; 25/25 Canadian Category

Quality: all of the three sets of flavours are very very good in quality. The Port wine comes across as sweet and dry at the same time. The wood manifests primarily through vanilla flavours, with just background hints of oak and maple. Spiciness from rye with maybe a bit also of some rye dark-fruitiness, is aggressive, just as it is in Forty Creek Barrel Select. This is sweet and spicy like spicy candy. Score: 23/25 all; 24/25 Canadian

Variety: this sample of Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve gives me variety which a prior sample of Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve did not. With that prior sample all I could taste was wine. For this sample, Score 22/25 all; 24/25 Canadian

Harmony: the Port wine dominates this whisky to an unhealthy degree, despite the very high quality flavours of each of its component parts. Score 18/25 all; 20/25 Canadian

Total Scores 87/100 all whiskies; 93/100 Canadian Category

Comment: my other sample of Forty Creek Port Wine Reserve would have rated 80-all and 84 Canadian

If you don't mind aggressive wine taking over your whisky, you can really like this one. The aggressiveness of this expression reminds me of some of the things being done now by Balcones and Corsair

I agree with pretty much all that you say - it is more than drinkable but I was a little disappointed, given the reviews and feedback I received from others who have loved it. Not nearly as high quality as Confederation Oak or John's Private Cask.


I had high hopes for this. After enjoying the Confederation Oak Reserve, and reading the accolades and tasting notes I was expecting the port version of a Sherry Bomb.

Forty Creek continues to put out quality expressions in their special releases (this release was of just 6600 bottles).

The nose in this is quite impressive. One or 2 drops of water (no more!) help to bring out a rich port aroma. But there is a slight rubbing alcohol quality as well. Though not too unpleasant, it makes imperfect a very engaging nose.

The taste, despite a craft-level 45%, was a little dilute. My tongue kept asking for just a little more. Figs, spices, and port again. The finish, though smooth as advertised, is short compared to many single malts I've nejoyed.

This is a good whisky, but I'm comparing it to some great ones I've had. I think that 1-2 more years in the cask, a little longer in the port casks, less dilution (50%? cask strength?) and this could be on par with some of the finest single malts around.

Added a point to it tonight. Same bottle, gassed the whole time. I haven't opened it in ages.

Time has been I good to this whisky. I got a hint of anise in the nose tonight which I do not recall from before. Also some red currents or gooseberries.

Trying this today in a port sipper or port pipe. Definitely a new experience.

This is the same bottle. With gas preservation it seems to have maintained its quality quite nicely, about 1/3 full. I can't change any numbers today because I'm still learning with this new glass. don't get much of a nose, but the flavour seems to punch above the 84 mark.

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