Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Canadian Whisky

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve (40% alc./vol.)

November 15, 2017


Toasted oak sugars, vanilla, hot pepper, mustard, and ginger. Lemon cream, sweet- and-sour rye, dry grain, new sawdust, fresh fruit, and a citric zestiness. Almost chewy. Soft Corn. ★★★★☆

(Note: This review was written in 2010.) In its continuing series of special releases, Grimsby’s Kittling Ridge Distillery will introduce Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve in the next few weeks. But before Confederation Oak arrives and steals all the attention, let’s take a look at the newest member of the Forty Creek core line. Introduced in 2009 as a one-off special bottling, Forty Creek’s Double Barrel Reserve was so popular it has joined Premium Barrel Select as a standard Forty Creek product. Talk about excellent news!

Like Premium Barrel Select, Double Barrel Reserve is blended from three component whiskies, each one aged separately in barrels that will emphasize the individual characters of the corn, the rye, and the barley whiskies. Then, when each is mature, they are blended and re-casked in different barrels to further mellow the flavours and allow time for them to marry. Thus, the whisky’s unique flavour is the result of its spending time in two different types of barrels. For Barrel Select, casks which were once used for sherry are selected to round out the blended whisky.

For the Double Barrel Reserve, whisky maker John Hall again opted for a double barreling technique, but this time he put the blended whisky in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels rather than sherry casks in order for it to marry. The result is a luxurious, creamy, vanilla-rich sipping whisky that soon encourages a refill. Since these barrels have already been used once to make Bourbon, much of the harshness of new oak has been seasoned out of them, leaving behind luscious caramels, vanillas, and sweet spices to complement the mature whisky.

Nose: The first impression is of sweet rye spices then the toasted oak-sugar triumvirate of caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla kicks in, followed by lemon cream biscuits, hints of oranges, along with whispers of coconut. Soon, pickles, sweet-and-sour sauce, and returning echoes of sweet rye spices get in on the act, as a slowly increasing cream-sherry-like fruitiness hints of sweet nail polish. But in a good way. Then the grain arrives – sweet dry grain, mash, and sweet beer. A variety of woody notes, including oak, lumber, and Bourbon wood add complexity. Many little subtleties flirt teasingly including hints of sharp fruit, bananas, fresh flowers, and coconut. These really shine when the whisky is diluted and they testify to the double barreling. Strong, full, and very rich aromas promise a rewarding palate.

Palate: As the nose predicted, the palate starts with sweet toffee and vanilla – like crazy. Right away there are hot spices, pepper, hints of zesty bitter lemon, and just a touch of fresh wood which later reappears with a gentle tannic pull. The soft, voluptuous ying of creamy, almost chewy, sweet corn whisky gives way in the middle to a persistent yang of citric zestiness, balancing a vanilla sweetness with a touch of burnt sugar. Hot peppery notes, with a hint of mustard, fade to a pleasant glow at the sides of your mouth. There is a lot of gingery rye spiciness in here too. The corn whisky creaminess gives way to rapidly building rye notes that resolve into a nuttiness, like a good Irish pure pot still whisky. This is really excellent whisky, its subtle fruitiness reminiscent of a Niagara fresh-fruit market along with suggestions of stewed prunes. The rye returns at the end with the smell of fresh-water plants that brings to mind Lot 40.

Finish: Long, warm, and pleasing. Nothing overwhelms. It’s fruity with a dash of pepper and long creamy corn-whisky Bourbon notes. Hot and spicy, with some vanilla toffee and a cleansing citric zest. A complex ending for a complex whisky.

Empty Glass: Caramel, toffee and vanilla, dusty rye, hay loft, slightly floral, a hint of mint, and fresh cut wood. Lots for the nose to smell next morning.

$59.95 at LCBO

Highly Recommended. ★★★★☆

Forty Creek Barrel Select is reviewed here.

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve is reviewed here.

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

Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve is reviewed here.


11 Responses to “Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve (40% alc./vol.)”

  1. Richie:

    This is very close in taste to Tangle ridge can you reiview this and compare or am I crazy?

    • Davin:

      Hi Richie,
      It’s the vanilla notes but i find Tangle Ridge a lot sweeter. Yes, eventually i will post a review of Tangle Ridge.

  2. J. Allen Wood:


    Thanks again for all the great reviews!

    I have a few questions about FC’s special releases. In what order were the Small Batch, Port Wood, Double Barrel, and Confederation Oak Reserve bottlings released and how many bottles of each? Also, if you had to rate these four against each other, in what order would you put them (first to fourth)?


    • Davin:

      Sorry for the looooong delay in responding. You have the order right. I like all of them but the newest one, John’s Private Cask No. 1, is my clear favourite.

  3. Paul:

    Hello Davin,
    I’m thinking someone either messed up or got smarter. i found double barrel on 2 shelves on nlc website . only total of 7 bottles but got the wife to pick me up a bottle for when i arrive home. i might do a tasting of my own now since i have them all except small batch.. it’s taken quite an effort to assemble them all but well worth it. to date john’s private is my favorite as well..however select is my go to. when i want more than just a taste.
    any hints to what john might be planning for the near future?;-)

  4. [...] Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve is reviewed here. [...]

  5. Willie:

    Thinking of getting this as a special gift for my father. He enjoys Crown Royal and Canadian Club.

    Would this or Caribou Crossing (which is easier to find) be a better choice?


    • Davin:

      You can’t go wrong with ether one of them.

  6. [...] Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve is reviewed here. [...]

  7. Wow! A lot of flavor going on. Corn with toasted pecan, spicy rye that lingers on the tongue, maple and vanilla, and a lingering buttery toffee- all so singularly harmonious that one has to ask, “Can Christmas come early?” The answer is sometimes, because this is a Reserve edition. I poured 3 oz in a snifter and added 2 cubes of ice. I stared at it for a minute, admired it in the light, swirled the ice around the glass, and after 3 good inhales, my sip was ready. This is truly a whiskey that been crafted with passion and precision.

  8. Toronto Tim:

    Woooohoooo ! now 40 $CAD for a 10th Anniversary version, with NEW smart label + a smat looking clear-glass bottle. June 23 2019 release Ontario wide as told on Facebook website…

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