Forty Creek Barrel Select Review

Forty Creek Barrel Select Review

To make the Forty Creek Barrel Select master distiller John Hall starts by distilling three different whiskies. A rye whisky, a barley whisky and a corn whisky that he puts into separate casks and allows them to age in their own right. Once they’re “ready” he blends the three separate components together to create the style and character he has in mind. This is fairly standard practice in Canada.

Forty Creek Barrel Select is a highly lauded, highly esteemed Canadian Whiskey by those who enjoy Canadian Whisky. Folks who spend their waking hours exploring this category have given it quite high marks and so it was with bated breath that I opened this bottle to see what magic it held inside.

Forty Creek Barrel Select Info

Region: Ontario, Canada

Distiller: Forty Creek
Mashbill: Rye Whisky + Barley Whisky + Corn Whisky
Cask: ex-Bourbon Barrels
Age: NAS
ABV: 40%

Price: $20*

Forty Creek Barrel Select Review

Dark honey

Butterscotch, vanilla, caramel corn and Rice Krispies with a touch of espresso, spice and nuts that all comes across incredibly sweet with a grainy undertone.

Butterscotch, caramel corn, waxy candy corn, toffee and a touch of spice and toasted bread. Again it’s candy sweet and that is my biggest issue. I’m not a sweets person and this is very sweet.

Med. fade of butterscotch, vanilla, candy corn, maple and toffee that dies down to an ambiguous grainy sweetness.

Not well balance (needs more spice!), a medium body and a light syrupy feel.

Forty Creek Barrel Select is an avalanche of butterscotch followed by a grainy sweetness that floods the senses and follows through the finish. There is complexity under the sweetness, but it’s nearly buried. Even after letting it sit for 30 minutes and, reluctantly, adding some water it was still a cavalcade of sweet notes with only light hints of anything dark or earthy attempting to balance it out.

I feel like I should throw out a couple of caveats though to those reading this and considering a bottle of the Forty Creek Barrel Select. First, I’m not a sweets person. I’m the salty / savory type; the only sugar I have in my house is some Baker’s Sugar I use for my humming bird feeder and a small jar of honey that’s lasted nearly 6 years. Second, I should note that on the whole I’m not a fan of the Canadian style of whisky – mostly because of the previous point. However, if you do like Canadian whisky then it’s quite possible you’d enjoy this.

SCORE: 79/100 C+

*Disclosure: This sample of Forty Creek Barrel Select was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.
Forty Creek Barrel Select Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose -
  • Palate -
  • Finish -
  • Balance, Body & Feel -


Forty Creek Barrel Select is cloying butterscotch bomb, but I’m also not a huge Canadian Whisky fan… take that for what it’s worth.

Forty Creek Barrel Select Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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10 Responses to Forty Creek Barrel Select Review

  1. To me, this is probably the very best value whisky available where I live (British Columbia, Canada). There are bourbons, American ryes, and single malt scotches I like more (some a lot more), but none of them are nearly as cheap as Forty Creek Barrel Select in British Columbia. And I agree it is sweet (which I am fine with), but what I am having a problem with is the idea that Canadian whisky in general is somehow sweeter than American whisky in general. The guy who has the Scotch Noob blog says the same thing you do. I really don’t get it. Forty Creek Barrel Select is sweet because it is one of only two Canadian whiskies I know of that spends time in sherry casks, so it is the sherry at work causing the sweetness. Most Canadian whisky is matured in ex-bourbon barrels, so like scotch it doesn’t pick up the full sweetness of the vanillas and caramels that American whisky gets from new, charred oak barrels. Consequently Canadian whisky never has that rich brown sugar note present in so many bourbons (a note I love). Also, the corn component in Canadian whisky is distilled to a level higher than would be permitted in any American straight whisky, so when it is blended with a smaller portion of lower-ABV rye, the rye sourness tends to over-ride the corn sweetness in a way that doesn’t happen with bourbon, because in bourbon the corn and rye are mashed together before distillation, distilled to the same relatively low proof, and the rye is too small a presence to over-ride the corn.

    • Side by side I find most Canadian whiskies, like this one, to be much sweeter and I think it has to do with the lack of a strong oak influence. Because they’re aged in used barrels they tend to be a bit more like Scottish grain whiskey than Bourbon which has that new-make-like sweetness when it’s young. Nearly every bottle of Canadian I open has this intense butterscotchy sweetness to it with the most notable exception being Lot 41 which I love.

  2. Like Josh, I’m not a Canadian whisky fan. I found it drinkable but very sweet, like they used a lot of white sugar in the process of making it. I won’t buy it again, but I did find it much better than the other Canadians I’ve had in the past.

    • “…but I did find it much better than the other Canadians I’ve had in the past.” <- That's about where I'm at too. I like the Copper Reserve a bit more, but it's still not what I'd call amazing.

  3. Sure sweet, but not over-powering. I find it less sweeter than some of the stuff under the Knob Creek label. And for the price,,can’t really knock it.

  4. I am no lover of Canuck whisky but I find 40 Creek to be nearly passable. It tastes better with a substantial amount of water.

  5. Oh man , lol .. ya gotta be kidding .. 79 ?! Josh , it’s not bourbon .. but I hear ya . I happen to think this stuff is damn good . It has a creamy mouth feel , a little wood , little spice and sweet caramel and it’s 20 bucks in my neck of the woods . Really , I cant think of any Canadian whiskey that comes close in it’s price range . Theres better but you have to drop more serious coin . It’s one of those things . Heck , I havey had a Scotch or Irish whisky I like yet .. go figure . Love this site .. cheers , man

    • Thanks John 🙂 I’ve come to find that Canadian whisky just isn’t my thing, though their Copper Pot Reserve isn’t 1/2 bad. I like the Canadian single malts and ryes I’ve had, but the blends just don’t do it for me. Cheers!

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