Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve 2012 45% alc/vol

February 17, 2013


Full-bodied with floral rye notes, black fruit, herbs, butterscotch tones, licorice root, celery, murmurs of gunpowder, and old Madeira. Fruity – spiced fruit, berries, apple cider, sweet pipe tobacco, then clean oak, peppery cloves and cinnamon hearts. Just loaded with flavour. ★★★★★

On September 15, 2012, the lock comes off the display case at Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby, Ontario, as whisky lovers descend on the Niagara town for their first taste of the new Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve. John Hall and his staff will be on hand to welcome whisky pilgrims to the distillery for his annual Whisky Weekend.

When Forty Creek introduced a Port Wood-matured whisky three years ago, it was greeted with resounding approval. Yes, it was a doozie of a whisky, and when supplies ran out plaintive cries were heard from whisky lovers across Canada and the U.S. “More!” they pleaded, on both sides of the border. Unfortunately, new whisky does not appear overnight, but finally, Hall has another batch of Port Wood Reserve ready. Those who loved the first release will find the new one just as delectable, yet with enough differences to make for a really exciting head to head.

Like most of Hall’s special releases, the Port Wood Reserve began as mature blended Forty Creek whisky, which was then poured into new barrels for an additional period of maturation. This process is not really the same as what we have come to know as “finishing.” Rather than quickly drawing new flavours and colour from fresh wine barrels, the whisky spent an additional two full years in Port barrels gradually interacting with the wood and continuing the slow process of generating its own new flavours.

Hall, we will remember, began his career as a wine maker. So when he set out to make Port Wood Reserve whisky he already had a supply of heavily charred white oak barrels that he had used to mature his Kittling Ridge vintage port. Recently, Hall has divested of his winery so used port barrels may not be as easy for him to come by next time. Yes, we can count on another spectacular special release next year, but wise whisky shoppers may want to tuck an extra bottle or two of the Port Wood Reserve away for a rainy day.

Nose: Mild aromas of dried prunes, hints of beeswax, and prickly rye spices. The higher abv is obvious in the blossoming floral rye notes and sweet stewed fruit. The power of long-aged whisky builds in steps. Herbal notes, or perhaps memories of marigolds waft gently amidst aromas of ripening fruit. Restrained butterscotch tones slowly meld with licorice root and celery, rewarding the patient noser with new complexities. That first sip can’t come any too soon, but the nose still has so much to offer. As the fragrance grows more fruity, thrilling murmurs of gunpowder and notes of old Madeira peek through. This is one very fruity nose that somehow avoids overtones of wineyness. A great beginning, so take your time.

Palate: Full and weighty with basket-loads of berries – strawberries and others – balanced by peppery heat and a hint of citrus bitters. Extra proof brings extra power and this whisky just glows with hot spices. Dried fruit figures richly on the palate – figs, prunes, and then some golden sultanas. The toffee-notes remain restrained, more as an underpinning than a forward flavour. Dutch salted licorice lingers in the background as sweet spices enfold the tongue. This tantalizingly flavourful whisky entwines one luscious, Rubenesque body. Tingles teasingly long on the tongue.

Finish: Very long and fruity with returning herbal notes, the feel of black licorice, and a complex richness. Peppery heat persists right to the end.

Empty Glass: Fruity sweet pipe tobacco, fresh purple plums, toffee with overtones of maple syrup, hints of clean oak, sweet apple cider, cloves and cinnamon hearts. Sweet spiced fruit.

$69.95  at the distillery beginning September 15 and at LCBO in October.

Very Highly Recommended. ★★★★★

See what the Rum Howler thinks of Port Wood Reserve here.

And New Brunswick’s Whisky Lassie give her take on it here.

Forty Creek Barrel Select is reviewed here.

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve is reviewed here.

Forty Creek Confederation Oak is reviewed here.

Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1 is reviewed here.

Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve is reviewed here.


38 Responses to “Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve 2012 45% alc/vol”

  1. Piers:

    Simply cannot wait to put this one on my shelf and in a glass

  2. Rob:

    OCTOBER!!! This is killing me.

    • Davin:

      Hehe! Well the LCBO got the Copper Pot out ahead of schedule. Let’s see if they make us wait for Port Wood Reserve!

  3. CBrown:

    Oh my poor groaning Canadian whisky shelf. Who woulda thought it!

  4. CBrown:

    Nice surprise! The BC Liquor board has started stocking the Port Wood already and I picked up a bottle today.
    No sign of the Copper Pot though.

  5. Rob:

    CBrown wanna trade? lol

    • CBrown:

      Ha! It would take 2 1/2 to 1 to cover the diff. It’s just as well they’re spaced apart as these new and impossible to ignore releases just keep coming.

      Both the Copper and the Lot 40 will make good additions to my Xmas wish list once they hit here.
      Looks like I’ll be passing on the Buffalo Trace special releases this Fall. Canada comes first!

      • Davin:

        Good man, CB!

  6. paddockjudg:

    This was my first visit to Forty Creek Whisky Weekend and it certainly will not be my last. John Hall, whisky maker, has crafted another world class blend. The whole weekend was about class. John may be a first-generation whisky maker, but he ranks amongst the industry’s nobility. Amazing man, amazing whisky, amazing weekend. ★★★★★☆

    • Davin:

      Love the stars! Yes, it really is quite a whisky produced in quite an amazing distillery.

      • paddockjudge:

        This litle gem is available today in only sixty LCBO stores. After some quick math there are perhaps about seventy-five more cases (packaged 6 bottles per case) in the LCBO warehouses. Forty Creek has hit another home run – This one is going, going, gone!

  7. Rob:

    What a whisky! This is John K. Halls’ best creation yet. All whiskies from now on should be 45%. My only worry is like other Forty Creek Whisky, perhaps due to the bottle, the taste deteriorates the longer the bottle is open. But I opened it last night and it was excellent, one of my all time favourites.

  8. [...] you want real tasting notes do yourself a favor and check out Davin de Kergommeaux over at Canadian Whisky – he’s forgotten more than I will ever know. I’m the whisky equivalent of [...]

  9. Yello to Mello:

    Currently, at full strength I don’t find this to be that much better than the FC Copper Pot (which I still think is the best whisky available in the $30 category). When I water this whisky down to 40% then all the flavours come out, and I rarely add water to whiskies. Ironically there is a niche coming out asking for more >40ABV Canadian whiskies, but for me the preserved strength didnt mean more flavour right now.

  10. Rob:

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. I make it a hobby of mine to try every 4.5 to 5 star whisky on Davin’s list here. And I’m going to Say this one has become number 1 on my list. As of right now my ranking is as follows:

    1)Forty Creek Port Wood
    2)Canadian Club 20 Year
    3)Caribou Crossing
    4)Crown XR
    5)Forty Creek John’s Private Cask
    6)Crown Reserve
    7)Gibson’s 18 YO
    8)Wiser’s Legacy
    9)Crown Cask #16
    10)Forty Creek Confederation Oak
    11)Wiser’s 18 Yo
    12)Lot 40 2012

    Not a big fan of Alberta Premium 30 or the Glen Bretons, but I don’t mind Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve.

    • Davin:

      Hey Rob,
      That is one heck of a great list. Cheers!

      • paddockjudge:

        Most definitely a top shelf collection Rob.
        I agree with your number one seed and would absolutely be inclined to discuss the order of your line up over a sampling of Sazerac Royal Canadian or the newly released Masterson’s – perhaps the Wiser’s Red Letter 150th?
        Stellar roster – Canadian All-St★rs.

  11. Rob:

    Paddock, I currently have a opened bottle of Masterson’s good stuff. I have a unopened bottle of Wiser’s Red Letter that I am dying to try but really would like to get my hands on another bottle before I open it. I’m down for a nice belt with a fellow Canadian Whiskey fan any day.

    • paddockjudge:

      Hi Rob, Masterson’s is a nice whisky. The $110 hurts and I’m not sure if I’ll be purchasing a spare. I do have a spare Red Letter, for a rainy day, and one that is open to sampling.
      Which region are you in?

      I’m harvesting Port Wood – a road trip is now in order as my area is void of this gem. I did pick up some stock in Grimsby (Canadian Whisky Mecca) during Whisky Weekend, but a six-pack doesn’t go very far with this one. Cheers!

  12. Bob:

    John has outdone himself on the port wood reserve. I’ve managed to collect cases of John’s Small Batch, Double Barrel, Confederation Oak, and now the Port Wood. I like the latter so much I own 4 cases. lol. COllecting that much in Texas is no small chore. I intend to drink the first 3 cases and stash the last. Though the Confederation is the smoothest, I’m partial to the port wood for a dynamic tasting whiskey.

  13. Rob:

    Hey Davin, have you ever tried the Bourbon Maker’s 46. It has many of the same tastes as Forty Creek Port Wood, I haven’t tried many bourbons but Maker’s 46 is truly great stuff. I was wondering if you’ve tried it and made the same connection.

    • Davin:

      Hi Rob,
      Yes, I have tried Makers 46 and I love it. I can’t say that it reminds me of Forty Creek except that it is quite full bodied and creamy. I find the Port Wood a lot fruitier.

  14. Rob:

    Interesting, what Canadian whisky would you say is more like Maker’s 46?

  15. Rob:

    Sad week in Ontario. First the Leafs lose an embarrassing game Monday. Then today I went to the lcbo because I noticed there was one port wood left at a Vaughan store near my house. Turns out it was an inventory mistake and that Ontario is officially sold out of Forty Creek Port Wood.

    • paddockjudge:

      Hello Rob,
      perhaps I can help you with your quest for Port Wood Reserve. Do you still have the unopened Red Letter 150th? I will offer two sealed bottles of FC Port Wood for the box and sealed bottle of J.P. Wiser’s 150th Red Letter.

      I very much enjoy the Port Wood; however, I would like to enjoy the Red Letter 150 again, thus the offer…the dollar value of this trade is very close to par.

      You may not see this for a few months – the offer stands. I too reside in Ontario.

      • MHutton:


        I am on the hunt for a 2012 edition of the port wood Reserve from FC and found this post. I know I am going way back but do you still have them? I have the 2009, Lot 60 and love it. I do have a bottle of the Red Letter 150th, in wooden box and un-opened. would hate to part with it but will definitely consider trade.

        • Davin:

          I am a whisky writer and i have no whisky to sell or trade. However, a lot of people read these posts so you may find someone responding to your enquiry. Good luck. It really is good whisky.

        • paddockjudge:

          @MHutton, send a message to me at; we can discuss our common interests in whisky ;)

          • paddockjudge:

            … I am offering a trade of Port Wood for Wiser’s Red Letter ’07.

  16. Maryse:

    Sorry Rob,

    I think I got the last one! The male unit got it for me and I brought it to Québec. ;-)

  17. paddockjudge:

    A whisky angel picked up the last bottle of Port Wood in New Brunswick and marked it for my cabinet, should be arriving soon. Can’t wait for ‘Heart of Gold’.

  18. Rob:

    Have an unopened bottle of this. Getting rid of it email if interested.

    • Michael Hutton:

      Really hope you still have this! Love this Whisky, all time favourite Canadian Whisky

      • Davin:

        Sorry, it is long gone and now a collectors’ item.

  19. Rob:

    My bottle has been claimed.

  20. John:

    Hi all,
    I have an unopened bottle and want to get rid of it.
    If you want it please email me at

    • John:

      My bottle has been claimed.

  21. John:

    I have a new bottle still in box if anyone wants to buy it? email me at

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