Introducing: Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve Canadian Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 2, 2010
Forty Creek Whisky has for the last four consecutive years produced a special limited release whisky and allowed the public to participate in the release by offering to let you choose your own numbered bottle. And to have the bottle signed by their own Master Distiller and Whisky Maker, John Hall, when you arrive to pick up your pre-ordered bottles. The bottle numbers are assigned on a first selected, first given basis through a posting on the Forty Creek Website each year when the special release product is announced. This is the third year in which I have participated, and my numbered bottles (0055,0056,and 0057)were picked up from the distillery this past Monday.
I think you can guess that since I have picked up my bottles, the Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve Whisky has just been released in Canada. As I stated above, this is a special limited release bottling (16,800 bottles) of Forty Creek Whisky. What makes it special is that this whisky has been finished in Canadian Oak Barrels. The name “Confederation Oak” is a reflection of the oak trees which began their growth in Canadian soil approximately 150 years ago at the time of Confederation (The birth of Canada as a nation).
“Over the years, 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 in Brant County 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 reproductive and 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.”
If you are astute you might point out that Canadian Oak is actually the same species of oak as American Oak which has been used for years. Why all the Fuss?
The difference, as the say, is in the details. The Canadian climate being harsher and colder than the American climate produces a thicker heavier tree. This higher density causes a different nuance in flavour to be imparted into the whisky. According to Davin de Kergommeaux,
“Slow growth in the harsh Canadian climate imbues the oak richly with vanillins.“
Davin is a certified Malt Maniac, and trained sommelier who has been analyzing, writing, and talking about whisky, as an independent commentator, for more than a dozen years. If you are interested in Davin’s tasting notes for the Confederation Oak Reserve, I would like to refer you to this review he posted on his website, Canadian Whisky:
“Butterscotch, fresh-cut wood, toasted oak and wood smoke. Sweet vanilla, berries, barbeque sauce, mash, granola. Restrained, but full-flavoured. Rich & Round…” (click the tasting notes to link to his full review)
As a final note, I have it on good authority that the Forty Creek Distillery expects to be sold out of their stocks of Confederation Oak Reserve by Christmas. So although you probably do not need to rush out this minute to get your own numbered bottle, you maybe don’t want to wait too terribly long either.
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