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Forty Creek Founder’s Reserve Canadian Whisky

Review: Forty Creek Founder’s Reserve (2016)   90.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka the Rum Howler)
Published December 15, 2016

Forty Creek Whisky has for the last number of years produced a special limited release whisky and allowed the public to participate in the release by offering to let you choose your own numbered bottle. As well you can have your bottle signed by their own Master Distiller and Whisky Maker, John Hall, when you arrive to pick up your pre-ordered bottles. These special release whiskies are built upon the foundation of the company’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and are basically versions of this whisky which have spent additional time finishing in selected oak barrels.

What makes this year’s Limited Edition whisky unique is that it is the first of the Forty Creek expressions to be dominated by barley.

According to the folks at Forty Creek:

As the 10th Annual Limited Edition, Forty Creek is excited to introduce Founder’s Reserve – a special, rare whisky and a tribute to our founder, John K. Hall. John was a pioneer in the Canadian Whisky industry and after 10 years of special editions, it is only fitting we pay tribute to his legacy.

This whisky is an artful blend of rye, corn and barley whisky stocks. Barley is the dominant whisky with rye and corn whiskies added for further complexity. The whisky stocks have been aged from four to nine years in a mixture of both lightly toasted and heavily charred American White oak barrels.

The new special release whisky will be bottled at 45% alcohol by volume.

sam_2878-founders-reserveIn the Bottle 4.5/5

Forty Creek uses the same style of bottle for each of their annual special releases. I have always loved the look of this bottle and the attractive/professional graphics and labeling which are employed. My growing collection of Forty Creek Special Release bottles are one of the major attractions which always please my guests when they see them on my Whisky shelf.

In the case of the Forty Creek Founder’s Reserve the attractive cardboard box which houses the whisky features a front and back window so that the elegant cool bottle within is the highlight of the presentation. Brief tasting notes accompany presentation on the side of the display box. A quibble though with the display is that the bottle is seated in such a way that more than half of the label is covered up. Important consumer information (like the bottling proof (45 % abv.)) is hidden from view making the purchase decision more difficult than it ought to be.

In the Glass 9/10

In my glencairn glass, the whisky shows us a nice rich amber hue which just turning the corner towards copper. When I tilt the glass and give it a twirl, it shows a lightly thickened sheen of liquid, the crest of which drops medium-sized legs which amble back to the whisky at the bottom of the glass. The initial nose is rich with maple, butterscotch and toffee, dusty grain, and luscious oak spice.

As the glass sits, the dusty grain note increases in strength as the sweet maple and butterscotch notes begin to merge with the oak spice bringing me impressions of marzipan and marmalade. I decided to allow the glass to breath for a full ten minutes and the oak and dusty grain continued to increase joined now by some leathery notes of burlap and deep tobacco scents. At this point I am extremely impressed.

In the Mouth 54.5

The Founder’s Reserve crosses the palate bringing forward a light maple and butterscotch sweetness which is followed by a robust nut and grain flavours the combination of which reminds me somewhat of Graham wafers. Sweet (and lightly sour) fruit flavours join in with orange peel, apricot jelly, and light raisin-like flavours. The oak and the grain spice liven the palate as does a gentle stab of 90 proof alcohol. The whisky tastes younger than other Forty Creek Limited Edition offerings, however, there is certainly enough depth and character to offset that youthfulness. Leather and tobacco and an undercurrent of nutty almond (which is trending to marzipan) round out the flavour nicely. When I add a little ice to my glass the whisky oozes a little chocolate and cola-like flavours making it a treat to sip.

The whisky is certainly of sipping quality, however, I believe it will also work very well in classic whisky cocktails like the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned. In fact, my suggested recipe down below is a variation of classic 1930’s serving, the Blinker Cocktail (found in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s 1934 bartending guide, The Official Mixer’s Manual).

In The Throat  13.5/15

The Founder’s Reserve has a medium length finish which revels in ending flavours of maple and baking spices (vanilla and cinnamon). The tonsils are whacked gently by the higher than normal alcohol strength of the whisky (and perhaps some younger whisky in the blend); however, this is offset very nicely by the ebbing sweetness of the maple and some very interesting wood spice flavours of cedar and oak.

The Afterburn 9/10

I am glad that Forty Creek seems to be back on track with their latest Limited Edition Whisky offering. I have been somewhat critical the last few years as other recent Limited Edition offerings seemed to me to miss the mark. Although I believe this particular Limited Edition Whisky is younger than previous years, it seems to be more cleverly constructed resulting in a whisky with better overall balance and flavour.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

sam_2888-blinkerBlinker Cocktail

2 oz Founders Reserve Canadian Whisky
1 oz Grapefruit Juice (fresh squeezed)
1/3 oz Cran-Raspberry Syrup (see recipe here)
Orange Peel

Add the first four ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with orange peel

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)



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