Pocket Flask: Wild-foraged mugwort, sweet fern, and juniper berries help make The Forager a true Canadian original

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      As a valuable public service, we crack open spirits from B.C. to Bahrain and beyond, and then give you a highly opinionated, pocket-flask-sized review.

      Today’s free pour

      Forty Creek’s The Forager Botanical Whisky

      Their words

      “The Forager Botanical Whisky is the world’s first botanical Canadian whisky. Every bottle of The Forager is infused with five wild botanicals; finding them demands patience. We forage from the Canadian wilderness, searching far and wide to respectfully and responsibly hand-pick the finest of these five natural botanicals. Our Master Whisky Blender, Bill Ashburn, infuses these wild botanicals with Canadian whisky, aged in virgin oak casks at our Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby, Ontario.”

      Tasting notes

      As anyone who’s walked the aisles of their local liquor store lately knows, somewhere along the line flavoured whisky became a total thing. From cinnamon-infused Fireball to Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple to Jim Beam Honey, there are options for those too lazy to infuse their spirits at home.

      And for the rest of us, thanks to the Wolf in the Fog’s brilliant Cedar Sour cocktail, fall and the start of storm season is time to get busy in the kitchen with a block of cedar, a wood planer, and a mason jar. As they used to say about Kenny Rogers Roasters, it’s the wood that makes it good. So get shaving, and don’t forget to let the whisky and cedar curls sit unmolested for at least a few days.

      The beauty of The Forager Botanical Whisky is the way Forty Creek has done all the infusing work on the back end, creating a product that actually lives up to its marketing description of “category-defying”. Yes, it tastes like a flavoured product, but not in a way that’s gimmicky—which is more than House of Tamworth Eau de Musc (beaver’s butt) whisky can say. (Um, look it up. But not while you’re eating).

      Created as a sort of tribute to the beautiful and expansive country we live in, The Forager is aged for three years, after which wild-sourced Nova Scotia spruce tips, Georgian Bay juniper berries, Labrador tea, Algonquin Park sweet fern, and Creemore Ontario mugwort are added to the mix for two days of steeping. Those botanical ingredients are hand-picked by folks for whom sustainable foraging is a passion, not a job.

      Lovely will do as a starting descriptor when you uncork the bottle, with The Forager smelling of single-forest Mauricie maple syrup and sliced Seville oranges. Get to the drinking and it’s a complex mix of crushed pine, toasted almonds, and fresh citrus peel, with a herbal tea–like undercurrent. All of which is to say there’s zero need to grab the planer and cedar plank with The Forager. All that’s going to do is mess with a good thing.

      If there’s a downside here, it’s that The Forager Botanical Whisky is so multi-layered it doesn’t always play well in cocktails that call for more straightforward options. Hello, Spiced Pumpkin Flip. But being so unique that you’re pretty damn great on your own isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world. If only more of us could say that.

      Cocktail time

      As per above, neat or on ice is a perfect way to get the most of The Forager. But if you must play mixologist, here’s an easy-to-execute option that let’s this superior whisky with the cool backstory take centre stage.

      The Forager & Tonic

      1oz The Forager Botanical Whisky
      3oz tonic water

      Build in a tall glass, over ice, and garnish with a slice of lemon.