Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate Award: Canadian Whisky of the Year

February 3rd, 2012

Wiser’s Very Old/18 Year Old, 40%, $65

Some folks always suspect that food or drink exporters keep the best stuff for themselves. I’ve heard it about cheese, beer, fruit…but when I’ve looked into it, the export markets are indeed getting “the good stuff.” Why not? You’d want to send the best to get the highest price, given that shipping costs are the same for great or mediocre products.

But after enjoying this bottle of Wiser’s Very Old (also sold as Wiser’s 18 Year Old), I’m starting to think that the Canadians really are keeping the good stuff up north. There are small amounts for sale in the U.S. (though that’s slowly increasing), but almost all of it stays home.

That’s a hardship for us non-Canadians, because this is a very nice whisky. After years of thinking of Canadian whisky simply as fuel for highballs and sweet Manhattans we’re looking for something else, something that can stand on its own and intrigue us, or something that could make a more robustly Canadian cocktail, and this Wiser’s would very much fit the bill. You can really taste rye and oak, without a lot of gloppy sweetness, and there’s a finish to reward sipping contemplation.

We’ve seen innovation in this category from John Hall’s Forty Creek whiskies, and rare elegance from limited bottlings like Canadian Club 30 Year Old. Wiser’s Very Old delivers classic Canadian smoothness with a rich extra helping of well-integrated flavor and complexity. Keep it coming, Canada; we’re ready for more.—Lew Bryson

Tomorrow’s announcement will be the Irish Whiskey of theYear.

No Responses to “Whisky Advocate Award: Canadian Whisky of the Year”

  1. Rick Duff says:

    At first I was surprised this didn’t go to John Hall… his yearly releases are always simply fabulous. However, owning a bottle of this (I believe I picked up at a border Duty-Free a few years back) I have to agree with Lew. This is simply some wonderful whisky.

    • Andre Girard says:

      Same as me….

      Even the Wiser’s Legacy instead of the 18yo… well, it’s a matter of taste and everyone may be right on this.

    • John Hansell says:

      John’s most recent release (Forty Creek Private Cask #1) was certainly on the “short list.”

      • Andre Girard says:

        Had a chance to be one of the judges who blindtasted for the Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 and must say Wiser’s 18 was one of the highest score of the competition.

        My heart still go to John’s Private Cask #1. Anyway, nice to read on Canadian Whisky industry, nice stuff up here indeed ! Well worth a try for sure.

  2. Lew Bryson says:

    Andre, Rick, glad you’re on-board with this (and yes, John Hall’s releases are always on the short list!). I’m optimistic that we’ll be getting some more of these finer old Canadians to review this year; more of the good stuff!

  3. mongo says:

    is there a fuller review of this whisky available on whisky advocate? wiser’s is not listed as a producer on the reviews site.

  4. davindek says:

    An excellent choice for Canadian whisky of the year. Wiser’s 18 is one of my all-time favourite Canadian whiskies and one of a handful that maintain the “old-style” crisp, clean and oaky Canadian whisky profile. Here’s to more Canadian whisky in Whisky Advocate!

  5. Tadas says:

    Whew, you missed Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Rye! 🙁 It was a limited release just for 2011. It is quite a bit better than Wiser’s Very Old/18 Year Old. Don’t get me wrong, Wiser’s 18 Year Old is very good but Alberta Premium 30 Year Old beats it. I have both bottles opened.

    You can find a review of Alberta Premium 30 Year Old here:

    • J.Wood says:

      I really wish we could get Alberta Premium down here in the States. That’s one Canadian Whisky I’ve been wanting to try for a long time.

    • Lew Bryson says:

      To be fair, Tadas: we did miss the Alberta Premium. It’s not easy getting Canada-only samples here, but having read Devin’s review in December, we’ve been working on getting a much more full range of Canadian samples in, like we’re getting a wider range of world whiskies. Expect to see more variety in the Buying Guide reviews this year!

      • Tadas says:

        Good to hear that more reviews coming!
        I wonder if somebody finds an interesting bottle you never reviewed, can he/she send one for you to review? I have an unopened bottle of Alberta Premium 30 Year Old and I would be willing to send it to you guys. I am not associated with any distillery or whiskey business.

        • Lew Bryson says:

          That’s quite generous! No need at this point, we’re having a fun time sourcing stuff in right now. Thanks for the offer, though. That’s what makes whisky folks such great friends to have: it’s about sharing the spirit. Cheers!

      • Lawrence says:

        Davin not Devin….


  6. Vince says:

    I was fortunate enough to pick up a bottle of this in Nashville (for $36!). I am not a Canadian whisky drinker (I prefer bourbon) but I really enjoyed this. I drank it side by side with a forty creek and you can really see where the age comes into play. A very subtle, complex, nuanced whiskey. Nice Choice!

  7. Stevely says:

    Wiser’s is truly making an impression this year with their Small Batch, Legacy and the 18 year old. All excellent products. I think this area is only going to continue to grow as small scale distilling is really in its infancy in Canada compared to the boom that it has undergone in the United States.

    I hope that Canadian Whisky won’t just be seen for mixing cocktails and that they can be truly enjoyed on their own.

  8. McKinney says:

    I ran into a bottle of this here in Atlanta a couple of years ago and picked it up. I’m so glad I did since I’ve yet to see another bottle. As others have pointed out, getting the best Canadian in the States is difficult (although I also scored a bottle of Forty Creek Conferation Oak quite unexpectedly this year) and it’s bottles like the Wiser’s 18yo that gives glimpses of the best on offer up north. Next time I go skiing I’ll pack an extra suitcase. An interesting choice this year, John, and a happy one at that.

  9. Gary says:

    I just bought a bottle of this and look forward to giving it a try this weekend.

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