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Things I learned in Canada and a Review of Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve

Posted on by Eric Burke

Well, I've been back in the United States for about a week now. I'm fully recovered from the early mornings, late nights and long drives. But looking back on it, I learned a lot while I was there. Some of it about Ontario, some about me. Some of it is minor, some...well not profound, but certainly less minor. 

Things I learned about Ontario & it's people & me 

Driving:

  • They do not "Merge" while driving, they "Squeeze." And I find that delightful.
  • Toronto will never, not be under construction. (I have that on good authority by an employee of the government.)
  • Ontario speed limits are extremely SLOW!!! 70-90 KPH? In the most extremely non-urban areas? Are you kidding me? I'm used to 70-80 MPH as a minimum.
  • Temporary orange lines for temporary lanes in a construction zone! Genius!
  • Canadian construction barrels are really skinny. But people still run them over.
  • I never want to drive in Toronto again. 

Money:

  • Ontario is expensive! (Across the board: soda, booze, attractions, public transportation, coffee...but not beer. hmmm...)
  • Pennies are stupid. Rounding feels better and less ticky-tacky. (but I still hate dollar coins...except for vending and tolls and bus fare and...)
  • Serious looking people in suits saying Toonie is just a bit silly.

Food:

  • Hamburgers in Toronto come with unannounced mayo.
  • Although vinegar on pizza is not a thing, I hope I helped to make it one. Also vinegar as a condement is totally a thing there.
  • I want the St. Lawrence Market by my house. 

People:

  • Toronto people do not say ah-boot instead of about (at least not those I met)
  • The homeless will thank you for not giving them money and tell you to have a nice day.
  • Canada is empty. The folks I met with claim that 75% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border. My limited experience seems to bear this out...though I doubt I was ever further than 100 miles from the US border. 
  • Just as not every Minnesotan loves hockey (me), not every Canadian loves hockey. 
  • Elton John got married in Toronto (acording to our tour guide on the sightseeing tour)
  • Everyone I talked to in Toronto had a slightly different accent.
  • The accent I picked up lasted most of a week before tv and Minnesota brought it back to normal.

Drinking:

  • When a Canadian says "Let's meet for a dram," it's likely they will bring two full boxes of whisky. Or so my one-time experience tells me.
  • Bourbon is a rip-off in Ontario ($75 for a bottle of Bookers, WTF?).
  • Government run liquor stores are generally bad for a varied selection, but centralized inventory lookup is really convenient.
  • It is way cheaper to bring booze home from Canada than into Canada if you are over your duty-free allowance. And that is good, because they really do keep the best whisky at home.
  • Forty Creek lived up to it's (unofficial) advertising. They make tasty stuff pretty much across the board. Though the maple liqueur was a bit much for me.

Miscellaneous:

  • Ontario is really big. It's 354,342 sqare miles of land area is roughly the equivalent of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington DC, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It goes from New York to Minnesota and then to Oh-My-God North. (The part we drove through was roughly the size of West Virginia.)
  • I could never take a cruise. I got restless on a beautiful, two-hour ferry ride across a tiny part of Lake Huron.
  • The CN Tower is older than me and glass floors that high up make me way too nervous.

The two most important things I learned in Canada are as follows: 

  1. Canadian whisky folks are amazing people and are worth the trip even if you were to do nothing else but visit them and then hide in your hotel room for the rest of the visit. 
  2. I really need to meet more of my online whisky friends in real-life. Let's all plan to meet at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival next year, ok? Or maybe just drop by my house here in Minnesota. I'm sure my wife will be fine with it. 

I brought three whiskys back from Canada with me. Two, I reviewed during the #DavinTT tastings in May. So here is the third:

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve 

(Lot 1867-B) 40% ABV

Nose: A lot of alcohol on the nose at first. After sitting a bit I get a big hit of buttery maple along with a bit of wet ashes. After a while longer the maple fades and is replaced by some sourness. 

Mouth: First sip is sweet, almost cloyingly so, on the tip of the tounge becoming increasingly sour as it moves back in the mouth. Subsequent sips: bring more of the butteriness from the nose and some spice.

Finish: Short burn, very easygoing with a lingering sweetness in the back of the throat. 

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Thoughts: Overall, I like this but with a few reservations. First, I'd love this at a higher proof. The flavor is just a bit too delicate for me. The finish is almost non-existent and higher proof might help that as well. Finally that sour note was just a bit too much for me this time around. So while I like this, it is not quite in line with my palette. I'm pretty sure he wasn't aiming for bourbon drinkers though. That said, it was fun to taste a whisky aged in Canadian White Oak barrels. Who knows if I'll ever get the chance to do that again.