A few weeks ago I was invited to Grimsby, Ontario for an afternoon spent at the Forty Creek distillery. I often get made fun of for enjoying whisky on the rocks; “Hello Grandpa!” is the response I get when I order, but it is one of my favourite drinks. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to attend a private tour of the distillery and tasting, hosted by the whisky maker himself, John K. Hall.
Back in the 1800s, there were over 200 whisky makers in Canada. Today, John is the only independent whisky maker in Ontario. Crazy, right? But also pretty amazing. John was a winemaker for 20 years when he decided to start his own distillery and turn his focus to whisky and enhancing the heritage of Canadian whisky in particular.
Look! A real copper pot still where the Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve comes from. Copper pot stills were used back in the good ol’ days, before whisky makers had to find a more cost effective alternative. But John doesn’t compromise on flavour, and so he has got two very unique copper pot stills to make his great whisky.
This is the room where all the magic happens. If I could live in there, I would be a very happy girl.
This fall, Forty Creek is releasing three new whisky products that we sat down to try. The first was the Port Wood Reserve, a limited release hitting stores in October. If you love port and whisky, this is definitely for you. I love both, and I’ve never tasted something quite so exciting. The fusion of flavours is created by ageing the whisky in vintage port wood barrels for two years. I recommend getting your hands on a bottle as soon as you can, they predict they’ll be sold out by Christmas. Hitting stores right about now are his new Copper Pot Reserve (same award-winning style as Barrel Select, but with amped up flavour) and Cream Liquor, just in time for the holidays.
Mr. John K Hall (I got to sit right next to him!) admiring the rich colour of his whisky.
After the tasting we sat down to an incredible three course meal created by Chef Steve of neighbouring restaurant, Memphis Fire. Everything he created for us involved using Forty Creek whisky somewhere in the dish, and he did an amazing job pairing the flavours. Even the appetizers when we arrived involved whisky some way some how!
I’m a big fan of cooking with liquor, and so I reached out to Chef Steve to snag one of his recipes to share with all of you. The below is for his Bison Sliders, which you could easily adjust to make regular-sized portions – the whisky onion jam is just to die for, I hope you all enjoy.
Bison Slider Recipe by Chef Steve of Memphis Fire
Whisky Onion Jam
5 Onions, julienne
½ cup Cider Vinegar
3 cups White Sugar
1 cup Forty Creek Whisky
Make a caramel with the cider vinegar and the white sugar. Once the caramel is to colour, add your onions and whisky. This will dilute the “jam”, add the brown sugar and cook until you have a thickened consistency. Serve chilled
1 cup Pommery or Grainy Dijon
½ cup Dijon Mustard, Smooth
¼ cup White Sugar
? cup 40 Creek Copper Pot Whisky
Mix all ingredients and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
1 lb Ground Bison, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
12 1 oz Buns, preferably rye with caraway
½ cup Whisky Mustard
1 cup Whisky Onion Jam
Once your Bison is seasoned, divide it out into 1.3 ounce portions. Form the portions into 1/3” thick discs and let rest for 20 minutes. Bring them to the grill or skillet, and cook them until the internal temperature reaches 170°F. Cooking less than 170°F could be a risk due to unknown pathogens in ground meat, including Bison, which has a very low bacterial threshold, but you never know what else was in that commercial meat grinder before the Bison.
Once the patties are cooked, let them rest in a 200°F oven while the buns are assembled. Cut the buns, and spread the whisky mustard on the bottom. Place a hot slider patty on the mustard, top it with a dollop of whisky onion jam and then crown the slider with the top of the bun. Serve and eat immediately, and enjoy it paired with a great whisky.
Ps. Forty Creek distillery is hosting their annual Whisky Weekend THIS weekend in Grimsby and more. Head to the distillery for tours, whisky tastings, food trucks and more! Click HERE for more info.