Did you know that different whiskeys or scotches have many different flavors? Well, until a recent trip to the Forty Creek Distillery in Ontario, Canada, I was clueless to these flavors!Up here in Canada, we drink Rye. It’s a form of whiskey and I’m sure many of you have tried it - Crown Royal as an example. For me, having drunk rye, they all tasted like, well…whiskey! Had a burn going down. Mix it with Cola or Ginger Ale and a lime wedge and as the saying goes, “it’s like an angel, crying on your tongue.” It’s delicious! Well, all of that turned on its head when I took the tour of Forty-Creek.[caption id="attachment_12745" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]
Photo Courtesy Whisky.com[/caption]
Who are Forty Creek, and how did they begin?
John K. Hall is "a winemaker by trade, however, in 1992, I decided to start my own distillery in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada and turn my attention to whiskey. Having been a winemaker for over 20 years, I decided I needed another canvas on which to paint to satisfy my creative thirst. Also, I have always enjoyed the taste of a fine whiskey. Scotch whiskey makers were promoting their single malt whiskeys and Bourbon whiskey makers were beginning to develop & promote small batch bourbons, but no one in Canada was enhancing the heritage of Canadian Whiskey. Over the years the craftsmanship of our Canadian spirit was being lost amongst distillery closings and consolidations. In themid-1800’s there were over 200 whiskey makers.”My visit was on a “Whiskey Weekend” where they launched a Founders Reserve bottle from John Hall. He was on site all weekend greeting visitors and even signing the bottles.[caption id="attachment_12747" align="aligncenter" width="741"]
John Hall (center), the founder of Forty Creek, signing a bottle of his Founder's Reserve whiskey.[/caption]When our time was up, we headed inside to see the tour. We learned things like how all Appleton’s Rum for Canada is bottled at the Grimsby plant, how they select their barrels for storing, and how they make the spirits. Then, they took us into the barrel room where the whiskey was aging.
Our tour guide started to share more about when they rotate the barrels and then went into the “how to drink whiskey” talk. Here is where I started to think “How to drink whiskey? You put it in a glass and drink it. Simple!” Well, I was clearly wrong! He went on to talk about the different flavors of Forty Creek whiskey. Now, I’ve had some Forty Creek many times, and never once tasted anything other than, well, whiskey.Here’s where the revelation happened!Our tour guide said, "How you should be drinking whiskey is take a sip, move it around in your mouth and let it sit on your gums to feel the burn. Once you feel the burn, swallow the whiskey. Wait 30 seconds and then take another sip. See what you taste.” He spoke about the main flavors of Forty Creek being honey and vanilla.
Tasting Notes of a Whiskey Maker
“Forty Creek Barrel Select Whisky displays aromas of honey, vanilla, and apricot, which fuse with toasty oak, black walnut, and spice. The flavor is rich and bold with a smooth, long finish. As you let the whiskey breathe in your glass many other flavors begin to evolve such as pecan, chocolate, orange, and spice," the tour guide told us.Admittedly, I thought he was crazy, and of everything that we learned on the trip, this is the thing that I remembered most. At the end of the tour, there was a sampling at the bar and this is where I wanted to put this “theory” to the test.[caption id="attachment_12749" align="aligncenter" width="612"]
Photo Courtesy Thespiritsbusiness.com[/caption]The bartender asked me which one I wanted to sample, and I decided on the Barrel Select because it was supposed to have hints of Vanilla and Honey. The bartender handed me a sample and I followed what he said - put some in your mouth, move it around to let it burn on your gums. Ok, I felt the burn now, so down the hatch.At this point I thought - yep, still tastes like whiskey! What was that guy talking about?And then it happened!Second sip about 30 seconds later and BOOM. Honey and vanilla!Where did that come from?? I’d had this many times and NEVER tasted that before! This one was the regular Forty Creek too and not one of their higher end whiskeys!Ok, let’s put this new information to the test. Up next was the Confederation Oak. Oh, it’s delicious - and that will be another post.So, what did we learn? Whiskey has many flavors and if you hold it in your mouth, swirl it around so your gums feel a burn, swallow and sip 30 seconds later, your taste buds will thank you!