Forty Creek Heart of Gold
It happened unexpectedly and was over before I could fully comprehend what had occurred. In the waning afterglow of Spirit of Toronto 2013, Canada's premier whisky maker John Hall handed me a small sample of a yet-to-be-released whisky. "It won't be available until September, but I'm calling it Heart of Gold" he said, going on to describe it as "rye forward" and something he had been working on for years. Following the show I set it aside, save for one quick nosing during the pre-order period that has since closed, waiting for the day before the release to take you inside the glass.
This weekend it becomes available for pick-up, to those smart enough to order their bottles in advance, at Forty Creek's Whisky Weekend in Grimsby, Ontario. Soon after, it will see a limited release of 9,000 bottles across Canada, with the exception of Quebec, and the United States, but only in Texas.
The product of a whisky maker drawing upon a lifetime of experience and a passion for innovation, Heart of Gold was made using a wine yeast strain during fermentation to elevate the floral elements and narrower cut points to hold up the rye characteristics. The final result is yet another winner from the vanguard of Canadian whisky.
Nose: Peppery spice and rich caramel notes lead the way, both inexorably tied to a fruity thread of muted oranges and red plums. Beneath this runs a current of dark maple syrup and light herbaceous floral scents, with everything capped off by a delightful deep bready bass tone.
Palate: The maple syrup detected on the nose moves to the forefront, shifting from dark to amber as it goes, carrying with it a more defined clove note in the spices. The citrus element develops into Seville oranges dusted in semi-sweet chocolate powder followed by a light whisp of vanilla and graham crackers. From this point on things begin to twist with fall harvest fruits one moment and pecan pie the next, with the fruit elements bearing the tartness of the skin of red plums, as though somehow eating one from the inside out.
Finish: Drying, it begins somehow pithy and reminiscent of a twinge of grapefruit without being overt or intrusive. Moving through the tartness found late on the palate the maple syrup flutters briefly once more, this time in tandem with brown sugar, before fading out with the peppery spices first detected on the nose. Running for an enjoyable two-minute finish, everything wraps up with a faint tannic note that causes the mouth to water ever so slightly, reminding me of what I love most about the final moments of an amarone.
Overall: A fine example of expertly crafted whisky, Heart of Gold comes full circle from nose to finish by tying into the moments first experienced at the outset while delivering a truly enjoyable sensory experience throughout. From beginning to end it continues the Forty Creek legacy while remaining something unique within its stable of whiskies. Although I was not smart enough to pre-order my own bottle, I will be picking up a bottle or two at $69.95 before it sells out, as without question this is a must buy for all fans of Canadian or rye whisky the world over.