Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve, 45%

The fourth and last whisky in the Davin de Kergommeaux series of tasting on Sunday nights in May. Where’s the third, I hear you think? Well, I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. That Sunday I was not available (a weekend away with friends in Belgium, poor me) and have been rather ill since.

Anyway, the discussion yesterday before we tasted this dram was mostly about the modern era of Canadian distilling with a focus on why their industry is so much unlike the American and Scottish industry. There’s barely any tourism and single casks are all but unheard of.

The tourism is thanks to the USA and a weird law that since it took effect after 9-11 prohibits any food trucked into the USA to be made in a facility open to the public. If it comes by ship or plane there’s no problem but since Canada has a fairly sizeable border with the USA they usually truck everything in.

The single cask problem is mostly there for large distillers and their factories are just not set up to do such things. An argument was made (I believe by Steffen Brauner) that you just need the cask, a hose and a funnel to do a single cask but that bit of knowledge hasn’t seeped through yet.

Anyway, the dram:

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve. Image from

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve. Image from

At first I got window cleaning spray on the nose, but that diminished quickly. It doesn’t fade entirely though! Then I got small rye notes, toffee and caramel. Rye bread came later, as well as basil, balsamic vinegar and acidic sherry. Also some dates. A lot of this sounds nice but there was something in the scent that put me off.

It tastes like a dry Pedro Ximinez sherry with some sharp alcohol edges. Quite some dark fruits like currants, blackberries, maybe even raspberries. All in all, forest fruit. The sweet balsamic vinegar is here too with oak. It’s incredibly sweet and rich, but at the same time it also has a slightly hearty, savory note in it.

The finish is long with the bucketloads of forest fruits again. The PX sherry notes are back too and there’s quite a bit of oak present.

A strange whisky. There are some aspects that I really enjoy, like the fruit-rye combination. I can sometimes appreciate balsamic vinegar notes in booz too, but this whisky isn’t one of them. So this whisky is more in the ‘interesting’ bracket than in the ‘nice’ bracket for me. I believe a lot of tasters were rather thrilled with it, but I wasn’t one of them.

I want to thank Davin de Kergommeaux and Johanne McInnis for organizing this series of tastings. It was very interesting to get to know a lot more about Canadian whiskies and taste some drams that never cross the borders. They keep a lot of good stuff for themselves!

I loved to be part of it and will do my best to review the third dram soon!

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve, OB, 45%, available in Canada for CA$ 69.95 (some € 53)

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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5 Responses to Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve, 45%

  1. Gal Granov says:

    This is is almost a juice not whisky. so thick, so sweet, it’s just like drinking PX sherry from the bottle. really would work well in cooking etc. way too sweet for me 😉 FUNKY

  2. portwood says:

    Forty Creek – the makers of the very whisky you review in this blog entry – not only allow distillery tours, they promote them! Therefore, the 9-11 excuse for not allowing Canadian distillery tours is, IMO, bogus.

    If you read Davin’s book you learn that all of the Canadian distilleries are industrial complexes – unlike many Scotch single malt distilleries and Forty Creek itself. THAT’s the key reason NONE of them promote (or allow) tours! If they had quaint copper pot stills and centuries old stone buildings for maturing casks you can bet they would be more amenable to welcoming visitors.

    The 9-11 excuse is very convenient but ask yourself: if Forty Creek can accommodate visitors why don’t any of the others in Canada?


    • portwood says:

      … I forgot to mention that Forty Creek made its name in the USA (especially Texas) before Canadians took to it. So, they continue to ship a significant amount of whisky across the border – and don’t seem to have a problem with the 9-11 regulations!

      Their next big event is in September 28, 2013 when they are releasing the next special edition (a high rye content whisky to take advantage of the latest rye craze) and giving tastings and DISTILLERY TOURS to all visitors.

      portwood (aka @65glenfarclas)

      ps I’m not a 40 Creek fanboy – as a matter of fact I find John Hall, himself is guilty of a bit of misleading talk occasionally. He has a habit of describing his “meritage” way of combining the three grain whiskies (corn, rye, barley) after maturation as if this was unique in Canadian whisky industry. In fact, the typical way of making Canadian whisky is to distill the three grains separately, mature them separately, and blend them just before bottling.

      • Keep in mind that those rules only apply to products shipped into the USA by truck. If, for example, 40 Creek decides to ship everything by air or sea they don’t have the problem.

        Most likely, the other distillers don’t accomodate tours since they are not allowed to IF they want to ship their products across the border. Since the USA is the main market for Canadian whisky they choose to not accomodate tours.

        Yes, they are big industrial complexes but even if they weren’t, they couldn’t accomodate tours in the current setup. Whether or not the distillers see the American laws as the main reason for not doing so, it definetly is the case that those laws exist.

  3. portwood says:

    Well, anything is possible.

    However, I would think air is the most expensive method of shipping freight, so I would rule that one out. Second, due to 40 Creek’s location, in order to use sea they would have to send product up the St Lawrence (either by ship or rail) then back south along the Atlantic sea coast. I can’t see that being cheaper than trucking (or rail) directly to Texas. Bottom line is that shipping to USA by truck from Southern Ontario is likely the most cost effective method of transport – which is the reason every other distiller does it that way!!! That being the case, there is no way 40 Creek would pick a more expensive shipping method (air or sea) just to be able to bypass the American no-visitors-law.


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