Evolution is the 8th release in whisky maker John K. Hall’s annualized small batch 40 Creek Whisky selection. According to Hall, the limited releases provide him with a canvas to grow as a whisky maker. That personal journey has resulted in one of his best releases to date with 2014’s Evolution.
Hall’s journey into whisky is framed similarly to Evolution’s own building of character, that is its relationship to wine. Prior to his time with 40 Creek, Hall was a vintner at Kittling Ridge, a now closed winery in the Niagara Escarpment. Transversely, Evolution, a combination of corn, barley, and rye whiskies, each double distilled, are each barreled in French Oak Cabernet Sauvignon casks for an additional 9 years.
The whisky has a sweet, almost berry nose, but its tastes open up to vanilla and butterscotch, depending on how much you dilute the whisky with ice/water. It is a subtle cooked sugar and spice that evolves as it lingers on your taste buds, for it is in the finish that the wine characters start to take over. Spice, sweet sherry, and finally tannins complete the tasting with a lingering need to have another sip.
While I enjoy the more caramel/butterscotch-like tastes in my whiskies, I often prefer the bolder peatiness that scotch provides. Yet the wine characters in Evolution that generate dryness in the finish have left my bottle empty much sooner than I anticipated. It is a lovely whisky and a true classic in the making. It’s small batch status is almost a note of sadness, as its limited 9000 bottle run will certainly have me longing for it in the winter months to come.
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