Wiser’s Red Letter 2014 Release Virgin Oak Finish, 45%
Canadian | $79
Pencil shavings, then vanilla, caramel, barley sugar, and bitter candied orange peel. Mild white pepper persists in a spicy fusion, from which a subtle but energizing pithiness teases out delicate smatterings of cloves, ginger, and allspice. The fruitiness of canned peaches, apricots, and sour green apples adds dimension and balance. Complex and so tightly integrated that rich as it is, individual flavors are little more than nuances. Finish is long and gingery with refreshing citrus pith. (Canada only) C$100
Distilled in May 2001 from a bourbon-style sour mash, this whisky was intended for blending. However, times change and Wiser’s recently vatted all 132 barrels as an Ontario exclusive. High esters, sweet pitchy resins, clean wood, caramel, barley sugar, floral notes, burley tobacco, green grapes, and Granny Smith apples. And that’s just the nose. Rich toffee, vanilla, brisk white pepper, ripe black fruits. Lingering, peppery, caramel corn finish. (Canada only) C$65
Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, candy sweetness, and strong bitter grapefruit pith overtake an initial dry dusty rye. After years in an assortment of bourbon barrels, new wood is used to tame the rugged rye notes while adding complexity and breadth. The oak has left obvious traces behind, with barrel notes and hints of fresh-cut firewood. Candied, in the vein of Wiser’s Legacy, but sharper, harder, and much crisper. Canada’s non-chill filtered reward for being Wiser’s biggest fan. (Canada only.) C$99
Winemakers have long known that toasted oak is very spicy. Today’s whisky makers are slowly catching on. Cinnamon hearts and hot peppermint add zing to a rich and creamy mouthfeel. Although the whisky is not overly sweet, it has a candied feel. Cloves and hot pepper round out the spices while vanilla and butterscotch lend smoothness as they keep earthy, flinty rye notes under control. Essences of cedar cigar box and black, withered figs contribute additional complexity. C$50
A nose of hot cereal with a dusting of dry cocoa and oaky vanilla, and hints of figs and sesame oil. The palate yields clean grains — a real crack of rye among them — and oak, dried apricot, unsweetened licorice, and a long finish of warming rich cereal. Strikingly clean and non-cloying for Canadian, sweet but not overdone. Good for mixing, but equally good for sipping; a nice end-of-day dram. (Sold as both Very Old and 18 Year Old.)
With Small Batch, Wiser’s offers a taste of the quality of its more expensive Legacy to those with a limited whisky budget. This is big whisky at a very affordable price. Cinnamon, cloves, and candied ginger temper glowing hot pepper, while oak caramels and vanilla bolster sweet dark fruit. The earthiness of rye intersects with the fragrance of river plants and wet slate. Red cedar and fresh sawdust round out a clean, expressive palate. Lots of weight. C$33
“Boiling the hops made them too bitter,” says Wiser’s master blender, Don Livermore. After more than 100 attempts he cracked the fruity-floral-hops code by “dry hopping” – adding Bravo hops to the finished whisky. Searing spices energize the earthy, grassy aroma of a freshly-mown fall meadow. Caramels—some sweet, some burnt—with early blushes of coffee or milk chocolate slowly fade into a vaguely bitter finish. (Canada only) C$29
J.P. Wiser’s signature is on the label, but the whisky itself bears the toasted-oak hallmarks of Corby master blender Dr. Don Livermore. There’s a lot to enjoy in this creamy, lush whisky. An initial blast of sweet caramel lingers as sour rye and bitter citrus pith emerge. These soon grow into hot gingery fizz and burned toffee. Dark fruits turn to citrus notes and cherry licorice while sizzling ginger mellows into softly glowing white pepper.
Blending two types of 100% rye with creamy corn whisky creates a complex dram that feels as good as it tastes. Sizzling peppers and nutty grains playfully torment fresh-cut cedar and dry oak, all on a comforting blanket of butterscotch. Street-roasted chestnuts and coffee beans bring depth. Pepper dominates, yet the mouth feels soft and sweet. Otherwise-muted fruity and floral notes blossom with a dash of water. (Canada only) C$29
Burnt caramel, sweet—almost candied—but not cloying, the whisky quickly develops fiery blasts of pepper that linger long on the sides of your tongue. As the heat builds, caramel melts into barley sugar, which in turn fades into bitter citrus pith. Flinty hard rye and vague barrel tones never let us forget that this is whisky: whisky enhanced with vanilla and spices that a probing palate might have found anyway in the unflavored dram.
Pink cotton candy and hot caramel sauce on a simple nose turn to rich burnt toffee and invigorating hot chili pepper on the palate, followed by savory herbs. The herbal tones quickly turn pleasantly bitter before fading into the barest suggestion of dry oak. Tingling peppery heat lingers right to the end. A hot, spicy version of Wiser’s Deluxe with the rye elements boosted by added vanilla. (Canada only) C$28