An interview with Forty Creek Distillery’s John Andersen, Senior Brand Manager, North American Whiskies

By / Wine + Drinks / December 12th, 2017 / 5

Ontario’s Forty Creek Distillery has introduced a package redesign and continues to impart its unique footprint on the Canadian whisky scene. John Andersen, Senior Brand Manager, North American Whiskies, shares some of the details.

What prompted the package redesign?

The new packaging was an opportunity to reinforce the premium quality of Forty Creek with whisky fans. After acquiring the brand in 2014, one of Gruppo Campari’s first goals was to take Forty Creek to the next level. This is what initiated the packaging redesign; we wanted the packaging on the outside to be as special as the award-winning whisky on the inside. The new features – like the proprietary bottle, new aluminum cap, and embossing – give a physical manifestation to the innovative, premium and bold characteristics that are at the heart of Forty Creek.

In terms of the Forty Creek lineup, are there any changes/additions to the selection you can talk about at this point?

At Forty Creek, we like to think that we’re partly responsible for the new wave of innovation in Canadian whiskies. When Barrel Select was first introduced, it shifted many people’s perceptions of how a Canadian whisky could, and should taste like. We continue our tradition of innovation each year through our limited release offerings. These releases give us a chance to introduce new styles of Forty Creek to Canadian whisky drinkers. This year’s limited release, Forty Creek Heritage, is an homage to one of our earliest and most popular releases. It’s an elegant whisky that achieves it flavour through the use of lightly toasted American oak – as opposed to charred oak, which is more traditionally used. The previous year’s release, Founder’s Reserve, was barley-forward and as a result, completely different from a taste perspective. These limited release offerings are Forty Creek’s true passion projects, and you can expect to see us continue to push the boundaries of Canadian whisky in the future through these releases.

Does Forty Creek still intend to experiment with new types of cask wood – if so, what might we expect to see?

Some of Forty Creek’s most critically acclaimed whiskies have been ones that have experimented with different types of casks. Our most awarded whisky, Confederation Oak Reserve, is secondarily aged in locally sourced Canadian oak barrels made from trees believed to have first taken root at the time of Confederation. Our Port Wood Reserve was finished in vintage port wood barrels for two years prior to bottling and was so popular that we released it twice – once in 2009 and again in 2012 – to meet the incredible demand. We find that when we experiment with other types of wood we are able to develop unique flavours and aromas that are distinct to the wood used, and as such is certainly a point of consideration when developing new blends.

What, in your mind, are the most exciting things that have happened on the Canadian whisky front over the past few years?

Over the past few years, Canadian whisky has experienced a significant renaissance. While there are many reasons for fans of the category to be thrilled about, the most exciting to me is the innovation that we’re begging to see. Whisky makers are experimenting more and more – we’re seeing older age statements, single barrel offerings and cask strength whiskies. It’s almost a coming of age for the Canadian whisky segment, and we like to think that Forty Creek played a role in prompting this.

If you enjoyed this interview, you’ll enjoy our February/March 2018 issue of Quench Magazine. It’s filled with great content and interviews from the minds behind Canada’s booming drinks industry. “Get Quench-ed. Subscribe NOW.”   


Tod Stewart is the contributing editor at Quench. He's an award-winning Toronto-based wine/spirits/food/travel/lifestyle writer with over 35 years industry experience. He has contributed to newspapers, periodicals, and trade publications and has acted as a consultant to the hospitality industry. No matter what the subject matter, he aims to write an entertaining read. His book, 'Where The Spirits Moved Me' is now available on Amazon and Apple.

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