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Forty Creek Unity

Review: Forty Creek Unity  (91.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka the Rum Howler)
Published November 23, 2018

Forty Creek Whisky has an annual tradition of producing a special limited release whisky which is built upon the foundation of the company’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select. These annual special releases each seek to bring new character to the Forty Creek family. This year, the distillery had a contest of sorts where five fans of Forty Creek Whisky representing different areas of Canada were asked to help create the 2018 Forty Creek Special Release. Because the group could not agree on which of the three special blends was the best, a fourth blend was created by Mr. Ashburn which ultimately became the chosen favourite of the entire group.

The special blend was called, “Unity“. One of the features of this Unity blend special is that it includes a subset of 4-year-old Forty Creek whiskies within its construct. These young whiskies were blended together and then aged for a further time using high mocha wood staves added to the barrels. Completing the blend is a 10-year-old corn whisky as well as a small amount of 15-year-old Portuguese-style Starboard wine aged in used Forty Creek barrels.

Here is my review for the 2018 Limited Edition Release, Forty Creek Unity.

In the Bottle 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 on my Whisky shelf.

In the case of the Forty Creek Unity the spirit arrives in an attractive cardboard box (not shown) which includes tasting notes on the side and a useful description of the whisky upon the back of the box. In my mind, this is a perfect whisky presentation.

In the Glass 9.5/10

When poured into my glencairn the whisky shows itself as a rich copper liquid which has a hue already turning towards bronze. The colour is darker than we might expect, until we remember that a small amount of Portuguese style wine has been added to the blend. When I tilt my glass and give it a twirl I see a thickened liquid sheen and fat droplets developing at the crest, but again, drawing any conclusions is difficult as the influence of the added fortified wine is certainly having a firm effect on the spirits consistency.

When I inspect the breezes above the glass I am quite pleased. The whisky brings firm indications of oak and vanilla which are melded into a menagerie both rye and baking spices (cloves and cinnamon), hints of almond, and light indications of dark fruit and red licorice.  I really like how the scents and smells seem to act in harmony without any wayward notes clashing with the unity of the overall aroma.

In the Mouth 54.5/60

The whisky is full-bodied and has a nice lightly thickened consistency. Although Forty Creek began with a young(ish) blend of four-year old whiskies, the extra aging with mocha wood staves as well as the additions of a ten-year old Corn Whisky and a dollop of Portuguese style wine within the overall blend have effectively giving the spirit the mouthfeel and body of a well aged whisky. There is also a good translation of flavours from the nose to the mouth. The whisky is perhaps a touch spicier than the nose would have indicated but all of the same impressions are apparent. Oak and Baking spices melded with vanilla and almond, Dark fruit and red licorice, and a nice underlying current of chocolate. Perhaps it is the coming season, but I do have a firm impression of Christmas fruitcake in my consciousness.

I found that sipping neat or over ice were equally enjoyable. The ice brings more of the chocolate and dark fruit into focus whereas when I sip neat the oak and rye spice seems to dominate slightly. However, my favourite way to enjoy the whisky was in an Old Fashioned Cocktail. I used a combination of Whiskey Barrel Aged Cocktail Bitters with a hint Chocolate Bitters in the serving and you can find the recipe below.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The full-bodied whisky has a long finish. I am quite sure that the addition of the small amount Portuguese style wine is partially responsible for the lengthened finish as this has almost certainly added just a touch of sweetness which slightly thickens the whisky. The palate is left glowing with flavours of oak and baking spice (hints of rye too) with light trails of chocolate lingering in the background.

The Afterburn 9/10

When Campari first purchased the Forty Creek Whisky brand and distillery, I was a little apprehensive that perhaps we might see a light dip in the quality of the Special Releases each year. And with the releases of Evolution (in 2014) and Three Grain Harmony (in 2015), I thought that my apprehensions might be founded. However, the distillery seemed to find its footing again with the subsequent releases, Heritage (in 2016) and Founder’s Reserve (in 2017). I am very pleased to say that the 2018 Special Release – Forty Creek Unity has maintained this higher standard. This is a wonderful Canadian Whisky which (if my wife is reading this) I want to add to my Christmas Wish list.

My overall score is 91.5/100 which places the spirit firmly in the sipping (and hoarding) category.  I will of course continue to mix Old Fashioned Cocktails as well.


Suggested Recipe:

Old Fashioned Cocktail with Chocolate Bitters

1 1/2 oz Forty Creek Unity
1/3 oz Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio)
2 dashes Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Cocktail Bitters
1 drop Fees Aztec Chocolate Bitters
2 large Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

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 (loosely) 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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