Forty Creek (Kittling Ridge)

The Canadian Forty Creek Distillery is still a real craft distillery, meaning there's real craftsmanship involved: John Hall deliberately runs the distillery on a small scale and also produces Rum, Brandy, Vodka and Liqueurs beside Whisky. Having belonged to Hall's Kittling Ridge Estate Wides & Spirits company until 2014, the Forty Creek Distillery now belongs to Gruppo Campari.

Information about the Distillery
7 Bottles
-79.583108 43.203220
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Details about the Distillery

The Whisky

In terms of Whisky, Forty Creek is the best-known brand of the former Kittling Ridge Distillery. Most of these Whiskies are a blend of corn, rye and barley Whisky. The Whiskies are first matured separately in different casks in order to fully develop their taste profiles. The corn Whisky is matured in heavily charred casks (‘alligator charring’); the barley Whisky is matured in medium-charred casks, and the rye Whisky in lightly toasted casks. After varying periods of maturation (6 to 10 years), the Whiskies are selected for blending the Forty Creek Premium Barrel Select with its rich spice notes and floral aromas. Notes of vanilla, milk chocolate, walnuts and raisins delight the palate and are complemented by fruity aromas such as apricot.
For the Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Whiskies from selected casks are married in ex-Bourbon casks and matured for an extra period of time. This results in rich spice and nut aromas with distinctive notes of vanilla and toffee. The finish of this Canadian Whisky is smooth and long.

The visitor center of the Forty Creek distillery.


In contrast to other Whisky distilleries, Forty Creek can't look back on a long history, so John Hall had a lot of freedom when he took over production in 1993. Originally a chemist, Hall actually wanted to establish a Wine trade and only saw Whisky production as a creative challenge he could tackle as a side-line business. However, the demand for Forty Creek Whisky rose steadily, and when Campari acquired the distillery in March 2014, it made net profits of 39 million Canadian dollars. It has a production capacity of 550,000 cases per year.

The Forty Creek distillery from behind.

The Mashing Creek has no mill and uses pre-milled grain. Therefore, the first production step is mashing and careful cooking in order to extract the sugar from the grain.

The Fermentation

For fermentation, Forty Creek uses different yeast strains for different kinds of mash in order to achieve different tastes. Fermentation in the stainless steel fermentation tanks (capacity: 25,000 litres) takes three to five days until the yeast has turned the sugar and has produced a beer with an alcohol content of 8%-9%.

The Distillation

Forty Creek uses three stills: a column still for the corn Whisky, a very small pot still with a capacity of 500 litres for small-batch spirit with intense aromas, and their main still, a 5,000 litre pot still with a rectifier on top. Forty Creek only distils once, and the new make that comes out of the venerable copper pot still at 60%-70% ABV still has a very broad aroma profile. 

The column still of the Forty Creek distillery.

The Warehouses

The warehouses at Lake Ontario are large and spacious. Most of the casks are ex-Bourbon casks, but Sherry and Wine casks are also used for finishing Forty Creek Whisky. As a highlight, there are also some casks made of Canadian oak, called Confederation Oak, which are used for special Forty Creek bottlings.
Forty Creek whisky is bottled, labelled and packed by hand onsite. The motto of the craft distillery is: automation where necessary, but as much manual control as possible.

Some barrels ready to ship in the Forty Creek distillery.

The History

In 1971 Swiss distillers founded the Knittling Ridge distillery in Grimsby in order to produce Eau de Vie, spirits made from Wine and fruit. They also bought Vodka and bottled it, and for a short period of time they also bottled Canadian Mist under licence for sale in Canada.
When John K. Hall took over Kittling Ridge Distillery in 1992(?), he decided to focus on wine since there was no big market for eau de vie in Canada. However, beside the wine business he also kept the distillery running as a side-line. Whisky began to boom, and Hall decided to take part in this business. The fermentation tanks soon served for storing wine for four months of the year, while during the other eight months they were used to ferment grain mash. Hall became more and more interested in this “other water of life”. He experimented and did a good job, and his Whiskies were soon received very favourably. The Whiskies sold under the Forty Creek label were outstanding.
In March 2014 Campari took over the Forty Creek Distillery with all equipment, stocks and staff. John Hall remained ‘Whisky maker’ and was appointed chairman.

The visitor center of the Forty Creek distillery.

Visitor Centre

The Forty Creek Distillery and its shop can be visited all year long. Beside tours also tastings are offered.

Opening hours shop:
Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Sunday and Holidays: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Distillery tours:
June - September: Tuesday through Sunday at 2 p.m.
October - May: Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Forty Creek Distillery
297 South Service Rd.
Grimsby, Ontario, Canada
L3M 1Y6 

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