Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony

Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony Canadian Whisky
43% ABV
$70
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Introducing Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony!

Harmony is the pleasing sound of two or more notes heard simultaneously. With whisky, the skillful blending of two or more whiskies, is genuine harmony.

Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony is the 9th Limited Release from Forty Creek Whisky. This year, we decided to create a bit of music by carefully blending and harmonizing three single grains: rye, barley and corn. We began by fermenting and distilling each individual grain separately. Both the rye and the barley stocks date back to when we first began our Forty Creek Distillery. This Limited Release marks the first time these stocks have been introduced into one of our whiskies. As with many of our Signature Editions, the separate, single grain whiskies were patiently aged in toasted white oak barrels. At their peak flavour potential, they were then artfully blended to create the subtle yet complex whisky we named Three Grain Harmony.

To the nose, Three Grain Harmony displays aromas of vanilla, toffee and orange blossom with underlying spice notes. On the palate there are delicate soft flavours of exotic spices with a long dry finish.

Three Grain Harmony is a limited edition of 9,000 bottles.

Tasting Notes
Three Grain Harmony starts off with aromas of vanilla, toffee and orange blossom with underlying spice notes. On the palate there are delicate soft flavours of exotic spices with a long dry finish.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Prominent corn (but not “young”), rye beer-bread baking next door, corn muffins, with a hint of some type of cleaning chemical?
Palate: Corn sweetness up front with honey and vanilla, then some spiciness (rye spice, but not ‘American rye’; more gentle).
Finish: Moderately long and drying.
Comments: Of the three Forty Creek whiskies I reviewed this winter, this was my favorite and certainly the most interesting. If this were at a lower price point, it would be a “Must Try”. The nose reminded me a bit of the George Washington Unaged Rye made at Mount Vernon (which sounds like a dig, but it isn’t). When I think “rye”, I think sharp spice – and this is like that without the sharp edge, and with the spice dial turned down. It has a lot going on, and it is fairly well integrated. For me, this is a “sit and ponder” type of pour.
Rating: Stands Out / Must Try

What Richard Says:
Nose: Orange blossoms and corn mash.
Palate: Warm buttermilk cornbread (real cornbread, not the sweet Yankee kind) with orange blossom honey drizzled on top.
Finish: Spicy on the finish. Not in a “hot” way but it fires off with black and white pepper, cinnamon, crushed fennel seeds, and coriander.
Comments: Very nice and well put together. “Harmony” is the appropriate name. It plays well together. The finish on this release is really fun and gives you cause to linger on on the after aspects of the dram. However, for me it’s not something I would buy again over the standard Barrel Select. It’s interesting and fun for sure but it’s not $70 interesting or $70 fun.
Rating: Stands Out

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve Canadian Whisky
40% ABV
$65
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Notes from John Hall, Whisky Maker
I have worked with many types of oak barrels, first as a wine maker and then as a whisky maker. Every wood, whether it is from a bourbon barrel, port barrel, sherry cask, French, Balkan or American oak, creates a distinctive taste expression. As a proud Canadian whisky maker, I have always been curious what a Canadian whisky would taste like aged in a Canadian oak barrel, because most Canadian whiskies are aged in American oak.

To my delight, I discovered some massive Canadian white oak trees that were growing only 40 miles from the distillery! They must have started growing just before Confederation in 1867 because they were 4 feet in diameter and over 150 years old. The selected trees were harvested from a sustainably managed forest employing the principle of “no tree before its time.” This forest has a mixture of young trees coming up in the understory, mature trees in full productive vigor, and old trees whose growth has slowed. These older trees block sunlight and rainfall from the younger trees and when over-matured, need to be removed.

I thought I could give them a second career as whisky barrels. Canadian and American white oak trees are the same species. However, the cooler growing conditions in Canada result in slower growing trees that are more dense than their American counterparts. Consequently, the aromas and flavour profiles of Canadian oak are very different due to the Canadian terroir.

This is truly an iconic whisky. Canadian whisky, aged in Canadian oak barrels, harvested from trees that first rooted themselves in Canadian soil 150 years ago during Confederation.

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. A whisky to sip and cherish.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Soft, mellow Canadian maple syrup, fall leaves, faint apricots, plum wine.
Palate: Maple glazed donut with crumbles of praline pecans, mouthfeel is a tad thin.
Finish: Moderately long, with a bit of spice at the end.
Comments: I like sweet whisky, but this might be a bit too much sweet (definitely on the cusp for my personal taste). With the background all about the oak, I didn’t pick up much oak or spice – although full disclosure, I haven’t had a lot of experience with whisky aged in cooperage from really old trees. Maybe it is the Canadian oak that is just a different beast. Nothing off-putting about this pour (unless you’re not a fan of big sweetness), but nothing that stood out to me as particularly special. I’d be curious what this taste like at a higher proof, but I feel like I could say that about pretty much every 80 proof pour I taste (maybe the oak spice doesn’t get lost in the sweetness?)
Rating: Average

What Richard Says:
Nose: Bland and alcohol forward which is very odd given the 80 proof nature of the whiskey. It opens up with a bit time and water to fresh cut hay and fruit salad but there is a weird chemical-like note hanging way in the back.
Palate: Thank goodness this tastes better than it smells. It has a great creamy texture to it with gobs of vanilla cream filling (Boston Cream donuts) and poached stone fruit (pears and apricots) all drizzled with honey.
Finish: A bit dry and bitter. I was really hoping that some of the sweeter elements of the palate would linger a bit.
Comments: I really like the standard Barrel Select version of Forty Creek but I’m having a hard time liking this one. I really wish I had a chance to taste the original version back in 2010. My bottle is a later batch from 2015. This tastes very nice and it is easy to drink but the smell and finish are rough to get around. At $65 a bottle it’s rough to recommend buying one.
Rating: Average

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Canadian Whisky
40% ABV
$60
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Notes from John Hall, Whisky Maker
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to purchase some outstanding bourbon barrels from Kentucky. These barrels are excellent for ageing whiskies because they are “seasoned”. This means most of the fresh harsh oak tannins have been removed and what remains is all the good stuff, such as the softer oak tannins, wood vanillas, sugars and the toasty, smokey, spicy aromas, as well as the caramelized flavours from the heavy charring of the inside of the barrel.

After ageing my rye, barley and corn whiskies in their own special barrels, I decided to bring them together as a meritage, and placed the three whiskies into the bourbon barrels. This double barreling allowed the whiskies to hang out together and take on the subtle qualities offered by the bourbon barrels to enhance the finishing of the whisky.

Tasting Notes
Forty Creek Double Barrel has a wonderful golden roasted aroma filled with deep vanilla notes and highlighted with toasted spice, pecan and walnuts. There is a caramelized creaminess to the flavour with a rich spice that lifts it off the tongue. The finish is very smooth, mellow and extra long.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Soft, maple syrup, bit of burning leaves over freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies, rich with a hint of malt.
Palate: Creamy mouthfeel, syrupy sweet (but not viscous), maple candies, butterscotch, vanilla ice cream.
Finish: Moderately long and wet.
Comments: I prefer the nose on this over the Forty Creek Confederation Oak (I thought they were similar, but this one was much more rich with a bit more character). On the palate, this one crosses the “too sweet” line for me. Again, nothing off-putting unless you don’t care for sweet whiskey (but if that is the case, you’re likely not a big fan of most Canadian whiskey, eh!) If you like that sorta thing (maybe a big fan of Crown Royal?), this might be right up your alley! It certainly has more complexity, and is quite drinkable.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Slightly burnt caramel creams washed down with a vanilla malted milkshake.
Palate: Rich sweetness reminding me of vanilla fudge and toffee crisps. Cherry syrup, Frangelico, and Kahlua round out the palate.
Finish: A bit spicy with mild wood notes.
Comments: This whiskey is put together like their standard Barrel Select and then finished in ex-bourbon barrels instead of sherry barrels. It’s more of a vanilla forward version of that whiskey. It’s very pleasant and easy to drink. If you like lighter, sweeter whiskies then I would recommend giving this a try.
Rating: Stands Out

RMW 40 Year Old Blended Malt

Royal Mile Whiskies 40 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky
Bottle 62 of 337

47.1% ABV
$275
Website
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What the Blender/Bottler Says:
Quite frankly, we are delighted with our latest exclusive Royal Mile Whiskies bottling. Three excellent sherry cask matured single malts from the distilleries of Glenrothes, Macallan and Tamdhu have been gently married together to become probably the best value 40 year old malt whisky available in the world today. We’re confident that in this age where any whisky with forty years of maturation can cost big bucks, this simple but elegant bottle (nice label, no expensive box) of unctuous malt will bring big smiles to the faces of many whisky fans.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Deep rich baked dark fruits, oiled leather arm chairs, and a recently emptied humidor.
Palate: A good bit lighter and more delicate on the palate than you would expect with old sherry monsters like these blended in. Stone fruits, jarred cherries, dark chocolate, sherry, and oak. It’s very tannic forward like an old wine.
Finish: Wood and pepper dominate the finish.
Comments: No doubt that this is a very nice whiskey. The nose on this is stellar even if the palate is a bit underwhelming. By all means, if it is in your price range and you like old sherried malt then grab one if you can find it. However, it’s not a game changing old scotch by any means. The value proposition on this for 40 year old scotch is great. Also it’s nice getting to taste a bit of history. That, and being able to have one of only 337 bottles too I’m sure.
Rating: Stands Out

Spice Tree Extravaganza

Spice Tree Extravaganza Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46% ABV
$140
Website
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What the Blender Says:
As the name suggests, the liquid draws its inspiration from our Signature Range classic, The Spice Tree, but reinterprets it through the use of older components and a significant portion of sherry-cask aged malt whisky. The Spice Tree’s trademark spice character is retained but set within a richer, more elegant frame with a new depth of flavour and complexity.

Decadent and playful on the nose, you will find notes of sherry wine, dark berries and the fragrant sweetness of traditional sweet shops.

On the palate there is juicy red fruit, a dark brown sugar richness, the trademark Spice Tree ginger and clove spice character and an endlessly long, spicy, substantial finish.

32.6% First Fill Sherry Butt aged malt from Glen Ord
17.2% First Fill Sherry Butt aged malt from Benrinnes
2.6% Refill American Standard Barrel aged malt from Allt-a-Bhainne
27.7% Light/Medium Toast Hybrid Cask aged blended Malt scotch composed of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich
4.3$ Refill Hybrid Cask aged blended Malt scotch composed of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich
15.6% Heavy Toast Hybrid Cask aged blended Malt scotch composed of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich

Limited Edition release of 12,240 bottles worldwide.
Bottled August 2016.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Grassy, slightly bitter, stewed fruits and a bit of a sherry backing.
Palate: Cherry tarts with chocolate sauce, crisp apples, candied ginger, berries, and brown sugar cookies.
Finish: The finish is where the name shines. Loads of black pepper and baking spices.
Comments: Extravaganza for sure. This is an incredibly delicious whisky that oozes rich fruits layer with spices. It’s much more sherry flavor forward than regular Spice Tree but both fans of Spice Tree and neophytes will enjoy it. Grab the bottle if you see it.
Rating: Must Buy