Guest blog: John Hall from Forty Creek Canadian Whisky
Our guest blogger for October is John Hall, whisky-maker of Forty Creek Canadian whisky. John is doing some really cool, innovative things in Ontario. Here he talks about his latest creations–some available in the U.S., some (sadly) not. But I have been getting inquiries about his new releases, so I invited him to say a word or two. Thanks, John, for taking time out of your busy schedule to let us know what you’re up to.
Well folks, John Hansell graciously invited me to talk about my latest adventure in Forty Creek Whisky Taste Expressions. I am a bit reluctant as you will soon find out, because I feel I am all dressed up with no where to go! But John mentioned to me that he has received inquiries about my latest release and recommended I speak directly to you through his medium. So here we go.
My latest release began its journey 16 years ago in 1993. My whisky distillery and winery had only been operating for a year. As many of you know, I am a wine maker by trade, so to keep myself occupied while my whiskies aged, I continued to make wine. This obviously helped with the cash flow as well. Many whisky makers are jealous of winemakers. Wine can be made, aged, bottled and on the shelf within a year or two, but fine whisky takes much more time.
The roots of this new whisky release dates back 16 years. While whisky is my passion, I am also very fond of vintage ports. So in 1993 I bought some new American white oak barrels and began making vintage aged ports out of grapes grown by my growers in Niagara. This not only provided me with some very tasty ports but also port wood that I could use to round off some of my whiskies. I intuitively knew the rounding in port barrels would be good, but I even surprised myself.
I believe it is one of the best whiskies I have ever tasted. I only wish I had made more of it. Only 3000 bottles available and I fear none of it will pass the provincial boarders of Ontario, Canada. What a pity. Although, some people believe it is worth the drive to “The Forty”. But hope reigns eternal, a year and a half ago when I realized the direction the Port Wood Whisky was taking, I immediately decanted more vintage port and filled the barrels with more aged whisky. So my next batch could be ready, within a year or two.
In the meantime, I have made my second lot of Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve which was rounded off in bourbon barrels (Lot # 241). This lot spent an extra year for a total of 3 years rounding off in bourbon barrels. It is even deeper and richer than the first lot, which John Hansell rated at 90 points. It’s on its way to you having been shipped to distributor’s warehouses in the USA. The retail price is still being held at $59.95 a bottle.
But friends, the best news is yet to come.
As you may know, I am a first generation whisky maker, but my daughter just gave birth to my first grandson, John David Scott on Sept. 2, 2009 (299)! I know it sounds like a new batch number!
Well we are still trying to figure out what to call him. Scott sounds a little like whisky. JD sounds a little like whisky and Johnnie sounds a little like whisky. I think he will be Johnny! The thing is the first letter is right. All the great whisky men’s names started with “J”; Jack Daniel, Jim Beam, Joseph Seagram, Johnnie Walker, John Jameson, James & John Chivas, and John Dewar.
So here’s a toast to all the great whisky men, past, present, and future!
John K. Hall
FORTY CREEK JOHN K. HALL PORT WOOD RESERVE
Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve is the third limited release in the Forty Creek Family, and is the smallest, with only 3,000 bottles produced.
Notes on Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve from John K. Hall, Whisky Maker:
My Port Wood Reserve is made in the same style as Forty Creek Barrel Select and Double Barrel, in that I do not use a mash bill. My varietal whiskies (rye, barley & corn) are pot distilled and aged separately, and once completed brought together as a meritage. In this whisky, the Forty Creek meritage was re-barreled in vintage Port Wood for an additional two years prior to bottling. Little did I know the profound effect that Vintage Port barrels would have on the final finishing of this whisky.
Appearance: Mahogany gold with red flashes. Huge legs that never leave the sides of the glass.
Nose: A constant evolution of concentrated, complex aromas. Intense yet delicate aromas of deep vanilla, orange marmalade, ginger, dried fruits, black cherry, fig, dates, cereal malt spice, clove, cinnamon, chocolate, tobacco, toffee, honey and smoke.
Palate: Huge, full, rich, satin-like, very smooth, same dried fruit is nicely framed by oak, black licorice, hickory, almond and walnut.
Finish: Lingering long finish with spice, cinnamon, licorice and smoke in the back. A very pleasant sweet heat (spicy heat) hits the upper pallet and lingers on and on.