Wednesday, February 5, 2014

REPOST: Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve - An autumn whisky and then some...

For those who read my blog regularly you must know by now how much I love a certain Canadian whisky distillery: Forty Creek. I can't help it. I sometimes think my friends feel like I'm that reformed smoker who loves to preach the greatness of anti-smoking to current smokers. Prior to tasting the Forty Creek line in 2009, there were very few Canadian whiskies I would even ascertain trying, let alone buying. John Hall opened my eyes to a new avenue of whisky that I refused to believe existed. The rest, as they say is history. Now my collection exceeds one hundred bottles and has some of the best Canadian Whiskies on the market. So back to Forty Creek: Like every other master distiller in the world, John Hall works very hard at maintaining the quality of his award winning whiskies while developing new products. And as always, he delivered.  For 2012 and his annual Whisky Weekend he revealed a new Forty Creek: Copper Pot Reserve.  It couldn't have come at a better time.  

Fall here in Canada is one of the most beautiful times of the year. People from around the world flock to our country to experience the cool morning air, warm sunny afternoons and the long shadows the sun blankets us with. The red maple leafs, yellow birches and copper oak leaves are abundant and breathtakingly beautiful. I am in awe every year as the transition from summer to fall takes place. Out come the warm wool socks and gloves and the fall/winter whiskies too! The rich, more full bodied whiskies get pushed to the front of my whisky shelf and the summer ones fade to the back. It only seems befitting that Forty Creek released the Copper Pot Reserve at this time of year. The bottle has an orange hue and golden highlights. The elixir within a rich deep golden amber to match.

One of the great things about John: Although he is a trailblazer in his craft, he doesn't settle for anything less than perfect details when it comes to making his whiskies. John takes corn, rye and barley but DOES NOT create a mash. Instead he distills each grain separately in a traditional copper pot still. Forty Creek has two small copper pot stills on site and John believes and swears by the fact that each pot has its own personality which imparts character to the whiskies. I like that. It's truly what I think being Canadian is all about. We don't aim to look like everyone else and to be "Canadian" means we are all individuals with our own personalities and character. We may not be the best or the biggest and that's just great for most of us. No wonder I like Forty Creek so much, it is the "new" Canadian whisky. So enough of the O Canada anthem (sorry...). I will get off my soap box and tell you what I thought of this dram. I sampled Copper Pot Reserve three times seriously and then just as a sipper on a cold night while I was relaxing and enjoying a quiet couple of hours home alone. This dram has such a wonderful warmth that on all four occasions I felt this glowing and content feeling after finishing it.  Very satisfying, full bodied and spicy. 

I think releasing this at 43% ABV was a great idea. There is a soupcon of Forty Creek Barrel Select but Copper Pot Reserve is MAGNIFIED in amplitude of aromas and especially flavors. This is a bolder version and yet another great example of how John dares to think outside the Canadian whisky box to create something that is exciting, different and surprising.
A Danish blogger friend of mine was in Canada this summer and I helped arrange a tour and visit to the distillery (Thanks Tim!). I contacted Steffen as soon as I received my bottle of Copper Pot Reserve and asked if he wanted to try it: YES! Was the resounding answer heard across the Atlantic.  So a sample was sent and he nosed, tasted and reviewed it. He rates his whiskies and gave it an 86 out of a 100. Not bad at all, if I do say so myself...   

Here is is website in case you would like to read what he thought:

FORTY CREEK COPPER POT RESERVE, 43% ABV, Released September 2012

COLOR: Golden sunshine in a glass. Hues of deep amber with flickers of orange. When my glass was coated it was somewhat viscous and the legs although plentiful slow to travel down the glass.  

NOSE: Peppery!, Very nice level of spice. A sweet butterscotch creaminess, and then it hit me. Kraft Caramels I used to get in my Halloween bag! WHOA! I let that memory sit for a moment. At the back I could detect some very bitter grapefruit pith. Once I added water, it tamed a bit of the spice and black cherries or rich black berries (very sweet) appeared.  The water opened another familiar fall item of my childhood:  Date squares.  
PALATE: The spice grabs your whole mouth so hold on! Nice mouth watering feel and explosion of flavors immediately. Cloves and a handful of cinnamon candies. Or maybe closer to the hot tamales candy I also use to get at Halloween, fiery! Once I added the water it toned down the spicy and a beautiful flavor of dark cocoa and bitter oranges came to the forefront.  If Terry's Chocolate Orange made one with dark 85% cocoa and Seville oranges - This is what it would taste like I'm sure of it.

FINISH: So sweet. I had anticipated a long lingering burn because of all the spiciness on the nose and palate, but got just the opposite.  
The burn was there: instantaneous on the swallow BUT then this glorious silky sweet finish took over and lasts.  Whiskies that have grain usually give me heartburn, I blame it on the rye... This one did give me a bit of an issue later on, but not on the onset.  

EMPTY GLASS: So sweet, almost bourbon like. Next morning (second sample especially) reminded me of maple sap with a hint of vanilla.

John Hall has successfully created yet another interesting and complex whisky that will be enjoyed by the die hard Forty Creek fans as well as people experiencing whiskies from this distillery for the first time. Being released in Ontario first (September) then the rest of Canada as winter approaches. Cost $29. Value for money - YES. Nice sipping whisky - YESS. Forty Creek brilliance in a glass - YESSS! (Sorry, I'll stop screaming from the soap box now.) The point is if you want to sip a warm whisky on a cold autumn afternoon, I would strongly recommend you consider getting a bottle of this.

On the fall whisky trail, enjoying the crisp autumn mornings and the late warm evening drams, I remain...



  1. Nice review! Think I may have to pickup a bottle of this nectar. I am in the Fredericton area and just getting into whisky (mostly single malt) and was wondering if you know of any whisky clubs in the area?

    1. Hey, just seeing this comment now sorry. There are two whisky clubs in the Fredericton area that I know of. One has a long waiting list and I know a few of the members in it, the other is fairly unknown and from what I gather is less formal, no waiting list but they don't advertise. My advice is go/call the ANBL store at the old train station and ask to speak to whisky product adviser Marc Daigle. He seems to have a pulse on the city and may be able to point you in the right direction. If ever you are in Saint John, let me know :)