Forty Creek Whisky's 2018 limited release was made available to Canadians for the first time during their annual Whisky Weekend (Sept 22-23 at the Forty Creek Distillery). Named Forty Creek Unity, this year's limited release marks a momentous milestone for the Canadian whisky brand, as it is the first-ever to be selected by five lucky fans from across Canada.
Earlier in the year, Forty Creek hosted a Facebook contest open to whisky enthusiasts across Canada. Fans were asked why Forty Creek was their whisky of choice. Winners were then flown into Ontario for a VIP tasting experience at the Grimsby distillery, where they worked together to select the final blend that became this year's limited release. This marks the first time that fans have been invited to be part of the brand's whisky-making process.
"We received entries from all over Canada. It was truly touching to not only see how far-reaching Forty Creek is, but how ingrained the brand is in our fans' lives and the role our whisky played in their most memorable moments," says John Andersen, Senior Brand Manager, North American Whiskies. "We were thrilled to welcome fans representing different communities to our distillery for what was a historic vote for Forty Creek."
The ingredients chosen to make Forty Creek Unity are as unique as the fans who helped pick the final whisky. Bill Ashburn, Master Blender, first selected a blend of Canadian whiskies that were further aged with the addition of high mocha wood staves. This was combined with an exceptional 10-year-old corn whisky, which helps give it that smooth Forty Creek trademark taste. To layer additional sweetness and complexity to the blend, they added a small amount of very rare Portuguese-style Starboard wine that had been aged 15 years in previously used Forty Creek whisky barrels.
The winners of Forty Creek's first-ever limited release contest came from across Canada. The five winners bringing their unique perspectives to the whisky-making process and representing their communities were:
Mike Currah, Ontario
Forty Creek is always top-shelf for Mike Currah. Mike was first introduced to Forty Creek in his early 20s – first the Barrel Select, then the Double Barrel Reserve – from the people he was living with in his home province of Ontario. As the brand grew, expanding to offer limited edition releases, so did Mike's appreciation for and collection of Forty Creek. To date, Mike has all but one of the limited releases. Learning from his previous mistake, he now makes sure to buy two bottles of each limited release – one to drink and one to save.
Sarah Phelps, Ontario
Sarah Phelps is a fan of whisky, specifically Forty Creek. Her love of the brand brought her to the distillery so she could witness the process first-hand. Her time spent at the distillery led to some surprising discoveries and inventive ways to enjoy Forty Creek. Currently, some of her favourites include adding Forty Creek Cream to her coffee, hot chocolate, and ice cream.
Mark Allanson, Alberta
For Mark Allanson, Forty Creek is the absolute best whisky. Having started off enjoying Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve, Mark has gone on to add Forty Creek Barrel Select, Cream, and Spike Honey Spiced to his cabinet. Always looking to expand his collection, Mark keeps a lookout for blends that are a rare find to bring back home to Alberta.
Steven Schmutz, British Columbia
The simple switch from drinking whisky mixed with cola to drinking it straight helped Steven Schmutzdiscover the different flavours that can be present in whisky. While out shopping, Steven's eye was drawn to a bottle of Forty Creek Barrel Select that had a special tag highlighting the blend's recent showing in a whisky competition. With Forty Creek having beat out several brands that Steven had in his cabinet, he decided to give it a try. Since then, Forty Creek Barrel Select has become Steven's go-to whisky.
Ryan Belmore, New Brunswick
Ryan Belmore was first introduced to Forty Creek 15 years ago. Looking for something to enjoy during a night out with friends in New Brunswick, he opted to give a bottle of Forty Creek a shot. That night, Ryan went from predominantly being a rum drinker to a Forty Creek fan. Ryan prides himself on introducing Forty Creek to his friends, and credits himself for dozens of them making the switch from other Canadian whisky brands. He has never had someone try Forty Creek and not make the switch.