the whisky lounge - a journal tracking a whisky maturation project involving a newly-acquired oak cask and a significant amount of patience

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Maple Leaf Forever!

I really should finish unpacking. I've been home for bloody days now and the luggage is still there on my floor, with who knows what left in it. I mention this only because I was looking for something unrelated and found something I'd forgotten about: whisky.

I know, I know, forgetting about whisky is at the very least a civil crime, but in my defence I thought I'd misplaced it entirely and was happily surprised to find it had been lost not on the streets of Toronto or the floor of whatever nightclub I was at, but in the bottom of my duffel bag.

The whisky in question is a single shot in one of those mini bottles that Rob gave to me. It's a small amount of his casking of Forty Creek Barrel Select. I have mentioned it before in this blog. In any case, Forty Creek is one of the few Canadian whiskies I'll drink, though I have to admit that it will never be one of my favourites. I find it is a bit too sweet, like most Canadian whisky I've tried. I have heard they had a different grain blend out there somewhere, but I never got the chance to try it. Maybe it would have been closer to my palate.

Rob, on the other hand, quite enjoys Canadian whisky, or "rye" as people seem to call it even though it frequently has very little or even no rye (by which I mean the grain) in it.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, a free whisky is a good whisky, so I'm happy to sample. Here are my thoughts:

Rob's exactly right when he says it's spicier than Forty Creek normally is. The oak is strong in this one. There's a faint hint of, well, the lemony floor wax I recall from childhood. Not quite real lemon, not quite plain wax, but some odd hybrid between the two. It's got a lot of the dried fruit nose that the Whisky Works had, but it's a tad different. Dried strawberries rather than cherries. The vanilla is a strong foundation under all of those other components, at least in the nose. Pepper.

On the tongue, the story is different. It's like my tongue is saying "hey, this reminds me of the Whisky Works stuff we tried" but then is backing off that claim. There are similarities: a long spicy finish, a good amount of oak, a smidgeon of dark chocolate mixed in with the vanilla. But there's something odd here. A bit of leather? Cold tea? There's something that isn't quite integrated, but it's hard to place. Tannins, I guess. I also find that the difference in grain is a bit weird for me. I'm so accustomed to malted barley being the predominant base that when it's corn or rye or wheat or who knows what, I find the taste is a bit odd. Not bad, just odd.

A splash of water definitely brings things together. It cuts out the astringency, letting the vanilla overpower the dark chocolate, and a fresher, grainy taste appear underneath the oak (but still not the right grain according to me). It shortens the finish a bit, but that's all right. All in all, with a splash of water, it turns out quite pleasantly.

In summary, it's good and worth sharing, though I will remain a Scotch drinker rather than a Rye drinker. That's OK, though: the world of whisky is big and varied enough for people of every taste.



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