$ — 40% ABV — 6-10 years
The success of Forty Creek is owed mostly to founder and wine veteran John Hall's absolute obsession with detail. Three grains — rye, barley and corn — are all distilled separately in small batches. They're matured separately in American oak, each distinctly charred for the chosen grain. They're each aged for varying amounts of six to ten years. Finally the three whiskies are blended together, but matured again for six months in sherry barrels before bottling.
Few whiskies distill each grain separately, a technique mostly unique to Canada — but stranger still, Forty Creek is distilled only once! The copper stills are heavily modified and only the very best part of the run — the heart — is aged and bottled. For a distiller to do all this with their standard, bargain-price brand is rather phenomenal. So Forty Creek get's an A for effort, but does it translate to anything special?
Well, yes! Most 'mass market' whiskies are made with minimal flavor, so as to be off-putting to as few people as possible. Forty Creek instead makes a whisky that's smooth and harmonized but also distinct and flavorful. It's fruity notes don't drown the other flavors. Smoke is present, but makes room for other aromas.
The only shame is its bottling at 40%, but for the price you can't be too upset. The great majority of guests will agree it's sippable, mixable, simply enjoyable. And if the legal minimum is too unforgivable a crime, their new Copper Pot Reserve is bottled at a respectable 43%. The price of the 1 liter bottle makes the Barrel Select a perfect host gift, but avoid the jealousy and snag a second bottle for yourself.