I was particularly interested in this batch of Confederation Oak because they’ve started to use new casks of Canadian oak for the releases starting from Lot E. John Hall distills, ages, and blends a mix of 100% rye, 100% corn, and 100% barley whiskies together and then barrels them off into a Canadian oak cask before blending the casks together and bottling. It all started with the first batch, made from casks which John Hall himself brought to a cooper to be made into barrels (for more info, read my review of Batch B). Since then, the barrels have continued to be re-used, but now the original barrels are largely used up and new wood needs to be cycled in to carry on the quality of the release. Every barrel ages and impacts a whisky differently, hence my interest in seeing the quality of the releases which incorporate some of the newer wood. How does it compare? I was curious, especially after what I thought was the relatively lacklustre Batch D.
Nose: Fresh oak, vanilla, and creamed corn along with some underlying nuttiness. The nose is quite sweet, and evolves to more maple. The nose has more oak than some of the previous confed oak releases – batch D at the least. Slight acidity too – there is a good amount of complexity for those who are willing to take time with this. 26.5/30 (88%)
Taste: A nice, rounded mouthfeel. On top, maple with some underpinning toasted oak, caramel, spices, and dried fruit. It’s more oaky and less fruity than some of the previous confed oak releases. The texture is very intriguing – both syrupy on top and dry and spicy underneath, and ever so lightly creamy, along with a very light tannic structure. It still has a berry fruitiness to it – like raspberries. Caramel. Quite elegant, but at times a touch simple. But – excellent, overall. 27.5/30 (92%)
Finish: An evolving dry and spicy finish, with some orange rind, clove, raw almond, butterscotch, vanilla, and a decent amount of body and weight. There’s some berry-like fruitiness in here, with soft raspberry influences which lifts the finish up pretty well. Lightly creamy too, with the raspberry it is a bit like a campino candy. 18/20 (90%)
Conclusion: This is a nice batch of confed oak. The nose, unfortunately, is a bit restrained, but the palate does make up for that. Good to see quality coming out of the new casks at Forty Creek. Having been slightly dissapointed with Batch D, it’s good to see that the quality is not simply declining. Confederation Oak is definitely quality, and one of my favorite Canadian whisky releases. 18.5/20 (93%)
Overall Score: 90.5/100