40 Creek - Malt Advocate's Canadian Whisky of the Year
News flash–Hot on the heels of being named Connoisseur Whisky of the Year – Multiple Markets, in the 2010 Canadian Whisky Awards, Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve has now won Canadian Whisky of the Year in John Hansell’s annual Malt Advocate Whisky Awards. This is just the latest in a long, long list of awards for the Grimsby, Ontario distillery.With only 16,800 bottles produced, distiller John Hall of Kittling Ridge Distillery had originally intended Confederation Oak Reserve as a Canadian exclusive. However, he finally acquiesced to persistent demand from his American distributors to supply key retailers in the U.S. That’s a good thing. Eligibility for the Malt Advocate Awards is limited to whiskies that have been released in the U.S. during the past calendar year.Malt Advocate, America’s foremost beer and whisky magazine, began its annual awards seventeen years ago to recognize excellence in the world of whisky. Each year the awards are announced in the first quarterly issue of Malt Advocate, due out this year at the beginning of March.Many Canadian whiskies are complex blends of multiple whiskies that have been aged separately in barrels specially prepared to suit the individual spirits. But since 1992, John Hall has applied his winemaking skills to create a unique and leading-edge whisky blending process he calls “Meritage.” What makes his method of blending whisky different is that he uses only single grain whiskies* rather than blending single grains* with whiskies from mixed multi-grain mash bills as many other Canadian whisky makers do. (See note below.)Connoisseurs consider his Forty Creek whiskies among the most exciting new arrivals on the Canadian whisky scene in years, while a competing distiller describes Hall’s experiment as the greatest innovation in Canadian whisky in decades. In the ten years since the turn of the century Hall has produced a whisky (Barrel Select) that has gone from almost zero sales to Canada’s number ten best seller. That’s impressive. Confederation Oak Reserve is a uniquely Canadian whisky, having been finished in tight-grained oak barrels made from mature oak trees that grew in Canada.According to Hansell's post on his blog this morning, "John Hall, whisky maker and owner of Kittling Ridge Distillery, is a leading pioneer in the Canadian craft whisky distilling movement". "Starting with Forty Creek Barrel Select, his flagship whisky (and lovely in its own right), he began experimenting with special, limited-edition releases, like Small Batch, Port Wood, and Double Barrel Reserve." "They were always very good, but we knew that John had the potential to make not just a very good whisky, but really great whisky." "It was only a matter of time, and that time has now come.""Put simply," Hansell continues, "Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve is a benchmark Canadian whisky." You nailed it John, we couldn't agree more.Hearty congratulations to John Hall and all the folks at Kittling Ridge Distillery and a big Canadian thank you to John Hansell and the crew at Malt Advocate for recognizing a Canadian whisky icon in the making.Read more about the Malt Advocate Whisky Awards on John Hansell’s blog.A detailed review of Forty Creek Confederation Oak is posted here.*Note – the term “single grain” normally refers to grain whisky that is the product of a single distillery, regardless of the composition of the mash bill. Single grain whiskies may be made from mashes that include a mix of several different grains. The "single grain" whiskies that are blended to make Forty Creek whiskies are distilled from 3 different mashes made up primarily or solely of just one grain – barley, rye or corn.