Whisky Advocate Award: Canadian Whisky of the YearDecember 13th, 2013
Wiser’s Legacy, 45%, C$50
Amidst a wealth of outstanding new releases it’s easy to forget old favorites. Forty Creek Heart of Gold, Highwood Ninety, Collingwood 21 year old, Wiser’s Red Letter, and Masterson’s Barley each fought to stay at the top of my 2013 whisky charts. Many head-to-head tastings and much thoughtful consideration later, the whisky to hold its own and emerge as Canadian whisky of the year is Wiser’s Legacy.
Legacy is the crowning achievement of Wiser’s former master blender, David Doyle. Looking back, it was also a harbinger of the new direction Wiser’s whiskies would take following Doyle’s departure. In hindsight, the influence of Doyle’s then-apprentice, Don Livermore, is obvious.
After a decade and a half as a blender, Livermore completed his PhD in brewing and distilling in Edinburgh at Heriot-Watt University. Shortly thereafter Doyle handed him the master blender’s reins at the Corby distillery in Windsor where Wiser’s whiskies are made. Livermore studied the effects of wood on aging for his doctorate. That almost candied succulence of toasted new oak that you taste in Legacy is the fruit of those studies.
A muscular, full-bodied, friendly whisky, Legacy slathers your mouth with its creamy, not-too-sweet candied essence. Hot cinnamon hearts and peppermint buttress the ginger, cloves, and nutmeg of warm Christmas pudding. Sweet vanillas and sumptuous butterscotch toffee becalm the steely earth of rye-grain whisky into kid-soft armchair leather. Then, just as you hit a pocket of black licorice, toasted new oak resurges with freshly split red cedar, over-ripe dark fruits, and out of nowhere, a briny wash of seashells. Finally, ever so gently it fades to a sweet spicy memory.
Though price was not a factor in deciding the Canadian whisky of 2013, its $50 price tag is a welcome bonus. Formerly in U.S. distribution, Legacy is now exclusive to Canada. –Davin de Kergommeaux
Come back tomorrow for our Irish Whiskey of the Year.