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Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve
Notes from John Hall, Whisky Maker

I have worked with many types of oak barrels, first as a wine maker and then as a whisky maker. Every wood, whether it is from a bourbon barrel, port barrel, sherry cask, French, Balkan or American oak, creates a distinctive taste expression. As a proud Canadian whisky maker, I have always been curious what a Canadian whisky would taste like aged in a Canadian oak barrel, because most Canadian whiskies are aged in American oak.

To my delight, I discovered some massive Canadian white oak trees that were growing only 40 miles from the distillery! They must have started growing just before Confederation in 1867 because they were 4 feet in diameter and over 150 years old. The selected trees were harvested from a sustainably managed forest employing the principle of “no tree before its time.” This forest has a mixture of young trees coming up in the understory, mature trees in full productive vigor, and old trees whose growth has slowed. These older trees block sunlight and rainfall from the younger trees and when over-matured, need to be removed.

I thought I could give them a second career as whisky barrels. Canadian and American white oak trees are the same species. However, the cooler growing conditions in Canada result in slower growing trees that are more dense than their American counterparts. Consequently, the aromas and flavour profiles of Canadian oak are very different due to the Canadian terroir.

This is truly an iconic whisky. Canadian whisky, aged in Canadian oak barrels, harvested from trees that first rooted themselves in Canadian soil 150 years ago during Confederation.

Tasting Notes

Forty Creek Confederation Oak is the colour of old gold and is a very full bodied whisky.  To the nose it is a big whisky with constantly evolving aromas and flavours. Beginning with a maple-raisin-vanilla-fig, layers of praline, banana, butter cream, honeyed nuts, marzipan, spice and orange blossoms. As it lingers, dark dried fruits and anise evolve. On the palate it has a very rich entry; soft, round and dry. Full bodied with vanilla, butter cream and pepper spice which is nicely framed with oak, walnut and smoke.  An exceptional finish that has great depth. A long lingering finish with fading spice and white pepper.   Excellent balance and vibrant flavour. A whisky to sip and cherish.

Awards & Accolades

Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute, 2014 - NEW
Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute, 2013
Gold Medal, Canadian Whisky Awards, 2012
Gold Medal, Wizards of Whisky, 2012
Canadian Whisky of the Year NAS , World Whisky Awards, (U.K.) 2012
Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute, 2012
Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute, 2011
Double Gold, Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition, USA, 2011
Top 10 New Whiskies, Malt Advocate Magazine, 2010
Canadian Whisky of the Year, Malt Advocate Magazine, 2010
Canadian Whisky of the Year, Canadian Whisky Awards, 2010


“Forty Creek Confederation Oak is perhaps the finest Canadian Whisky I have ever tasted. It is an outstanding whisky achieving classic status. We love the whisky’s creamy texture, along with its gentle sweetness and lovely fruit.  Both distinctive and very drinkable, it’s an outstanding effort!”

          John Hansell, Malt Advocate Magazine
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