Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve (40% alc./vol.)
Toasted oak sugars, vanilla, hot pepper, mustard, and ginger. Lemon cream, sweet- and-sour rye, dry grain, new sawdust, fresh fruit, and a citric zestiness. Almost chewy. Soft Corn. ★★★★☆(Note: This review was written in 2010.) In its continuing series of special releases, Grimsby’s Kittling Ridge Distillery will introduce Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve in the next few weeks. But before Confederation Oak arrives and steals all the attention, let’s take a look at the newest member of the Forty Creek core line. Introduced in 2009 as a one-off special bottling, Forty Creek’s Double Barrel Reserve was so popular it has joined Premium Barrel Select as a standard Forty Creek product. Talk about excellent news!Like Premium Barrel Select, Double Barrel Reserve is blended from three component whiskies, each one aged separately in barrels that will emphasize the individual characters of the corn, the rye, and the barley whiskies. Then, when each is mature, they are blended and re-casked in different barrels to further mellow the flavours and allow time for them to marry. Thus, the whisky’s unique flavour is the result of its spending time in two different types of barrels. For Barrel Select, casks which were once used for sherry are selected to round out the blended whisky.For the Double Barrel Reserve, whisky maker John Hall again opted for a double barreling technique, but this time he put the blended whisky in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels rather than sherry casks in order for it to marry. The result is a luxurious, creamy, vanilla-rich sipping whisky that soon encourages a refill. Since these barrels have already been used once to make Bourbon, much of the harshness of new oak has been seasoned out of them, leaving behind luscious caramels, vanillas, and sweet spices to complement the mature whisky.Nose: The first impression is of sweet rye spices then the toasted oak-sugar triumvirate of caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla kicks in, followed by lemon cream biscuits, hints of oranges, along with whispers of coconut. Soon, pickles, sweet-and-sour sauce, and returning echoes of sweet rye spices get in on the act, as a slowly increasing cream-sherry-like fruitiness hints of sweet nail polish. But in a good way. Then the grain arrives – sweet dry grain, mash, and sweet beer. A variety of woody notes, including oak, lumber, and Bourbon wood add complexity. Many little subtleties flirt teasingly including hints of sharp fruit, bananas, fresh flowers, and coconut. These really shine when the whisky is diluted and they testify to the double barreling. Strong, full, and very rich aromas promise a rewarding palate.Palate: As the nose predicted, the palate starts with sweet toffee and vanilla – like crazy. Right away there are hot spices, pepper, hints of zesty bitter lemon, and just a touch of fresh wood which later reappears with a gentle tannic pull. The soft, voluptuous ying of creamy, almost chewy, sweet corn whisky gives way in the middle to a persistent yang of citric zestiness, balancing a vanilla sweetness with a touch of burnt sugar. Hot peppery notes, with a hint of mustard, fade to a pleasant glow at the sides of your mouth. There is a lot of gingery rye spiciness in here too. The corn whisky creaminess gives way to rapidly building rye notes that resolve into a nuttiness, like a good Irish pure pot still whisky. This is really excellent whisky, its subtle fruitiness reminiscent of a Niagara fresh-fruit market along with suggestions of stewed prunes. The rye returns at the end with the smell of fresh-water plants that brings to mind Lot 40.Finish: Long, warm, and pleasing. Nothing overwhelms. It’s fruity with a dash of pepper and long creamy corn-whisky Bourbon notes. Hot and spicy, with some vanilla toffee and a cleansing citric zest. A complex ending for a complex whisky.Empty Glass: Caramel, toffee and vanilla, dusty rye, hay loft, slightly floral, a hint of mint, and fresh cut wood. Lots for the nose to smell next morning.$59.95 at LCBOHighly Recommended. ★★★★☆Forty Creek Barrel Select is reviewed here.Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve is reviewed here.Forty Creek John's Private Cask No. 1 is reviewed here.Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve is reviewed here.