Years ago while in Canada I had the privilege to crash a Winnipeg whisky tasting group.
These gents meet regularly and even have a locked whisky ‘cabinet’ that houses the whiskies acquired, sampled and re-sampled by its members. They are a merry bunch and I do hope another Winnipeg trip will coincide with their session… and they would be kind enough to welcome me back as a visitor!
Naturally, I asked what Canadian whisky is worth taking back to India for our tasting group. Crown Royal wouldn’t cut it (remember this is many years before Jim Murray decided to put Manitoba onto the whisky world map) and to be honest, I hadn’t really been paying much attention to developments in the Canadian whisky scene.
Forty Creek was suggested – specifically the Confederation Oak Reserve. Why? It uses Canadian oak – great big giant white Oak around approx 150 years to be precise – named as the trees likely began their life around the time of Confederation. How Canadian, eh?
Very hopeful and bursting with Canadian pride, I brought back a bottle and couldn’t wait to try! Except… let’s just say I wasn’t exactly bowled over by this whisky. I don’t even have a scrap of tasting notes for it…
However folks back in India in social gatherings LOVED it! A great conversation piece, a very smooth, drinkable dram… just not terribly remarkable in my hazy memory of many years ago.
Fast forward to November 2015 and this same whisky made its way via another Canadian lass living in Mumbai as her ‘treat’ from Canada for our Whisky Ladies November. However, always want to keep an open mind so thought what the heck! Let’s give it another chance.
What did we find?
- Nose – Citrusy, fresh cut wood, lemon peel, ether like in a doctor’s office, vanilla, cinnamon, fig, a rather Canadian maple and LOTS of honey
- Palate – Very easy, creamy, smooth, wood, simple, not complex, bit of pepper spice, walnut, not full bodied but pleasant
- Finish – Honey, mild with a bit of bitter
- Overall – An easy drinking whisky, nothing exceptional but entirely drinkable
While nice to have something from Canada, there is nothing to make me stand up and go ‘Oh!’ Our contributor shared a similar reaction… and then went to on to share her explorations of newer craft distilleries whose whiskies are yet to come!
So we are still hopeful our patriotic Canadian whisky hearts will find something to fall in love it from our ‘original’ home to share with our friends in our ‘adopted’ home India.
For those that are curious, here are the official tasting notes:
Forty Creek Confederation Oak is the colour of old gold and is a very full bodied whisky. To the nose it is a big whisky with constantly evolving aromas and flavours.
Beginning with a maple-raisin-vanilla-fig, layers of praline, banana, butter cream, honeyed nuts, marzipan, spice and orange blossoms. As it lingers, dark dried fruits and anise evolve. On the palate it has a very rich entry; soft, round and dry. Full bodied with vanilla, butter cream and pepper spice which is nicely framed with oak, walnut and smoke.
An exceptional finish that has great depth. A long lingering finish with fading spice and white pepper. Excellent balance and vibrant flavour.
Here’s what others have to say about this Forty Creek:
Other whiskies sampled in our Whisky Ladies session in November 2015 included:
- Sheringham’s William’s White Double Distilled Grain 2015 45%
- Nikka Blended Whisky 40%
- Oban 14 year 43%
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