Ahhh Neil Young! You can't be Canadian and not know who he is, well unless you are 5 years old maybe?
Most that know me, know how much I love Forty Creek whiskies. So I will say it again: John Hall shook the foundations of Canadian Whisky by making it "better". I'm sure at first the industry looked at him like he was nothing more than a flash in the pan and assumed he would a blip on the radar for a few years. Boy, were there wrong. Forty Creek has the second large demographic in Ontario for Canadian whisky and in Texas, it sells 2.5 million whiskies a year. Forty Creek whiskies, for me, became a reason to get on a soap box and announce to the world that CANADIAN WHISKY CAN BE GREAT!
Now some will say I've drank the Kool-aid and let them think that if they will. All I can say is having seen the foundations shook over the last 7 years I'm positive the slew of new Canadian whiskies we now see on the market is NO coincidence. Someone took notice that status quo was no longer acceptable and that Canadian whisky lovers were ready for something innovative. Ok, I'm getting off the soap box now...
So why did I choose Heart of Gold as dram #6. As stated each dram has a memorable story or lesson attached, well this one is no different. I was attending the Spirit of Toronto in May of this year. After much deliberation and arm twisting from Richard Culver, we went to Forty Creek Distillery. Not that I didn't want to go, I was scheduled to appear in September at the distillery as part of the Canadian Whisky Dream team with Mark Gillespie, Davin de Kergommeaux and John himself. I knew John was very busy getting things ready for SoT as well as many other dates/tours he was gearing up for so I really didn't want to impose and be another person on the tour in May. What I didn't know is that it was going to be a very special tour. So I'm glad we reshuffled the planned weekend activities and said yes.
What resulted was the surprise of a lifetime. I found out we were going to be spending the morning touring Forty Creek with John and Ralfy. Oh that's a nice surprise you are thinking?! NO... the surprise came when John took some of his latest creation Heart of Gold out of a cask and we were honored to be the firsts to try it. Of course we were under radio silence and I couldn't tell anyone about it. I nosed/tasted and listened to everyone discuss what they were getting from the sample. It was a glorious way to spend a few hours and I truly felt privileged to be there. The opportunity to imbibe with Ralfy was great but to sit with John and have undivided attention to ask questions, make remarks and learn was amazing. Ok you are thinking so why is this the August 2013 dram? Remember I said we were under strict radio silence, well Mark Gillespie, Davin de Kergommeaux and Chip Dykstra received samples during SoT and accidentally broke that radio silence by posting early reviews of it to their respective sites. June was Ralfy's turn to post his video and then came August when I received my "official" sample for review. I kept quiet still... and said nothing because my blog was due to air the week of Forty Creek Weekend when HoG was being launched:
I spent the better part of three consecutive days trying to figure out that dram! It's really not unlike anything John had made before? I was perplexed. Why didn't I remember it this way the first time in May? And... that's when it hit me. I got to try a Canadian whisky before Davin and Chip. Two of the leading bloggers/writers in Canada. Davin, the fine gentleman and my mentor - the do all, know all, see all about Canadian whisky. Now I know it was purely by accident and because I happened to be at the right place and right time BUT it still happened. I'm not saying this to sound like I got one over on someone what I'm trying to convey is that I felt like I had come to the table so to speak. That day in August as I stared at my lovely Glencairn with Heart of Gold gleaming in it I thought to myself: "wow, here I am... finally". Not that I think myself an expert as I have so much to learn and it's one thing to hear someone describe me as: "She's one of the top 5 influential voices with regards to Canadian Whisky". It's a huge compliment I assure you but... to self accept and allow myself to be in a confident place in my own head to finally say: I am the Canadian Whisky Lassie. Pretty memorable indeed!
I'm comfortable with who I am becoming and my identity in the whiskyfabric. It may have taken a sunny afternoon in August with a dram of Heart of Gold to figure that out but then again Forty Creek changed my life years ago, it's only befitting it changes it again.
Thanks John for your support and belief in me. May your heart of gold continue to shine brightly within mine.