Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve 2012 45% alc/vol
Full-bodied with floral rye notes, black fruit, herbs, butterscotch tones, licorice root, celery, murmurs of gunpowder, and old Madeira. Fruity – spiced fruit, berries, apple cider, sweet pipe tobacco, then clean oak, peppery cloves and cinnamon hearts. Just loaded with flavour. ★★★★★On September 15, 2012, the lock comes off the display case at Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby, Ontario, as whisky lovers descend on the Niagara town for their first taste of the new Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve. John Hall and his staff will be on hand to welcome whisky pilgrims to the distillery for his annual Whisky Weekend.When Forty Creek introduced a Port Wood-matured whisky three years ago, it was greeted with resounding approval. Yes, it was a doozie of a whisky, and when supplies ran out plaintive cries were heard from whisky lovers across Canada and the U.S. “More!” they pleaded, on both sides of the border. Unfortunately, new whisky does not appear overnight, but finally, Hall has another batch of Port Wood Reserve ready. Those who loved the first release will find the new one just as delectable, yet with enough differences to make for a really exciting head to head.Like most of Hall’s special releases, the Port Wood Reserve began as mature blended Forty Creek whisky, which was then poured into new barrels for an additional period of maturation. This process is not really the same as what we have come to know as “finishing.” Rather than quickly drawing new flavours and colour from fresh wine barrels, the whisky spent an additional two full years in Port barrels gradually interacting with the wood and continuing the slow process of generating its own new flavours.Hall, we will remember, began his career as a wine maker. So when he set out to make Port Wood Reserve whisky he already had a supply of heavily charred white oak barrels that he had used to mature his Kittling Ridge vintage port. Recently, Hall has divested of his winery so used port barrels may not be as easy for him to come by next time. Yes, we can count on another spectacular special release next year, but wise whisky shoppers may want to tuck an extra bottle or two of the Port Wood Reserve away for a rainy day.Nose: Mild aromas of dried prunes, hints of beeswax, and prickly rye spices. The higher abv is obvious in the blossoming floral rye notes and sweet stewed fruit. The power of long-aged whisky builds in steps. Herbal notes, or perhaps memories of marigolds waft gently amidst aromas of ripening fruit. Restrained butterscotch tones slowly meld with licorice root and celery, rewarding the patient noser with new complexities. That first sip can't come any too soon, but the nose still has so much to offer. As the fragrance grows more fruity, thrilling murmurs of gunpowder and notes of old Madeira peek through. This is one very fruity nose that somehow avoids overtones of wineyness. A great beginning, so take your time.Palate: Full and weighty with basket-loads of berries – strawberries and others – balanced by peppery heat and a hint of citrus bitters. Extra proof brings extra power and this whisky just glows with hot spices. Dried fruit figures richly on the palate - figs, prunes, and then some golden sultanas. The toffee-notes remain restrained, more as an underpinning than a forward flavour. Dutch salted licorice lingers in the background as sweet spices enfold the tongue. This tantalizingly flavourful whisky entwines one luscious, Rubenesque body. Tingles teasingly long on the tongue.Finish: Very long and fruity with returning herbal notes, the feel of black licorice, and a complex richness. Peppery heat persists right to the end.Empty Glass: Fruity sweet pipe tobacco, fresh purple plums, toffee with overtones of maple syrup, hints of clean oak, sweet apple cider, cloves and cinnamon hearts. Sweet spiced fruit.$69.95 at the distillery beginning September 15 and at LCBO in October.Very Highly Recommended. ★★★★★See what the Rum Howler thinks of Port Wood Reserve here.And New Brunswick's Whisky Lassie give her take on it here.Forty Creek Barrel Select is reviewed here.Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve is reviewed here.Forty Creek Confederation Oak is reviewed here.Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1 is reviewed here.Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve is reviewed here.