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Wiser’s Spiced Whisky (Vanilla)

Review: Wiser’s Spiced Whisky (Vanilla) 75.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra
Published January 20, 2013

John Philip (J.P.) Wiser, purchased a distillery in Prescott Ontario in 1857, and began to produce Wiser’s Whisky.  In fact, it may have been J.P. Wiser who first used the term “Canadian Whiskey” on a whisky label when he introduced his brand of whisky to the World at the Chicago’s World fair in 1893. From the beginning J.P. Wiser established his brand as a quality whisky with high standards of production. As a result the distillery grew, as did the popularity of Wiser’s style of whisky, and by the early 1900′s Wiser’s  was the third largest distiller of whisky in Canada.

The Company merged with the H. Corby Distillery Company sometime after the death of J.P. Wiser in 1917.  Shortly after in 1932, production of the Wiser’s brands moved to the Corby distillery.  A controlling interest in the Corby distillery was acquired by Hiram Walker several years later. By 1989, the Corby distillery was closed and all production was moved to the Hiram Walker Distillery.  Today Wiser’s  is distilled at the Hiram Walker Distillery in Walkerville, Ontario (since 1989), and aged in their facilities at Pike Creek near Lakeshore Ontario. Through all of these changes the Wiser’s Brand has been recognized as a vital component of each company’s portfolio of brands.

Wiser’s Spiced Whisky is a new spiced (or perhaps we might say flavoured) whisky which features the classic Wiser’s Whisky taste profile accented by vanilla spice. The introduction of this new whisky has been accompanied by a clever marketing campaign featuring the following television spot:



Of course I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

In the Bottle: 4/5

Pictured to the left is the new Wiser’s Spiced Whisky bottle. It carries the same rectangular shape as the previously reviewed Wiser’s Special Blend, and Wiser’s De Luxe. The labeling is smart and attractive, but I have my usual concerns with the metallic screw cap.

In the Glass 8/10

The whisky is a pale amber colour with a hint of red when held up to the light.  When I swirl the glass, I notice moderately thick sheen of oil appears on the side of the glass when it is swirled.  Slightly thickened legs drop at a leisurely pace back down into the whisky. The thickness of the legs hints at added sugar accompanying the vanilla spice.

The air above the glass is mildly sweet with a honey-like caramel accompanied by a gentle sweep of vanilla. You can easily detect the underlying scent of Canadian Whisky with a bit of rye spice, and light oak accents. The whisky seems rather pleasant and laid back hinting at a more subdued spicy character than the television commercial implies.

In the Mouth 45/60

Vanilla and honey are my initial impressions as I take my first sip of the Spiced Whisky. I also taste butterscotch, light oak spices, and a mild rye flavour accompanied by vague flavours of canned fruit (apricots and apples). This tastes good, but it lacks the typical thrust of spicy rye flavour I expect from a Canadian whisky. It also lacks the spicy attitude I was hoping for. The underlying Canadian Whisky does not impart much kick, nor much depth of flavour. Vanilla and honey sweetness is really all you get. The whisky seems to be designed to be a light cocktail mixer for the new whisky drinker.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The whisky is smooth with an exit lengthened by vanilla and a honey-like sweetness.  However an odd metallic note seems to linger in the finish.

The Afterburn 7/10

The Wiser’s Spiced Whisky promises a spicy kick of attitude in the advertising campaign; but instead delivers an easy going gentle whisky which seems to be completely inoffensive. It’s kind of like being promised a session of paint ball and instead finding everyone armed with small water guns. It’s laid back fun, but not the excitement you were looking for.

My score of 75.5 reflects a whisky which mixes well in long tall cocktails, but lacks the depth of flavour to be a suitable sipping whisky. (I was rather hoping for a better effort from Wiser’s on this one.)

You may read some of my other reviews of  Liqueurs and Flavoured Spirits (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

Here is a long tall cocktail which is sure to please everyone:

The Spiced Mammy

2 Oz Wiser’s Spiced Whisky (Vanilla)
1 Oz Fresh Lime Juice
dash of Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup cracked ice
Ginger Ale
Lime zest

Remove thin strips of lime peel from a fresh lime
Fill a tall highball glass half full of chipped ice
Add the lime juice and the Canadian Whisky
Top with ginger ale
Add a few threads of lime peel and stir gently.

As Always I want to remind everyone that my aim is not to help you drink more…it is to help you drink better!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


5 Responses to “Wiser’s Spiced Whisky (Vanilla)”

  1. Dave said

    I’ve been a fan of vanilla-spiced rums for a long time and wondered how a spiced whisky (rye?) would compare. I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried this. The vanilla flavouring used in rums always tastes like an additive with a blatantly phony “vanilla” flavour. The Wiser’s vanilla-spiced whisky tastes like much more thought was put into it. The “spice” has a taste that I feel is far more of a REAL vanilla taste. Not overwhelmingly sweet and it really seems to be an integral component of the rye and not simply flavouring squirted into the bottle. I’m a fan of Wiser’s whiskey, both mixed and straight, but have only tried the spiced rye with cola and I like it.

    • The spiced whiskies (at least the Canadian spiced whiskies) begin with a base whisky which is already aged a few years, which is quite different from the spiced rums which usually begin with a base rum which has very little if any aging at all. I think that contributes to your perceptions with respect to the overall flavour of the spirit. Although I found the wiser’s spiced to be pleasant, I also felt it was just whisky mixed with vanilla. I found the flavour quite one-dimensional. Having said that, I am glad your opinion is different. By all means enjoy your Wiser’s spiced.

  2. Mike said

    I’m not really sure about these flavoured whiskies appearing everywhere. I’ve tried Spicebox and Red Stag so far; they’re too sweet to be drunk like whisky, and not refined enough to be drunk like liqueur. Your cocktail sounds nice for this one, though.

    I was looking at Crown Royal Maple today. The label seems to indicate toasted maple wood used in the maturation, but the ingredients list on the back shows sugar, colour, and flavourings are added.

    • I agree that there certainly is an abundance of flavoured whisky suddenly. It seems to be the latest fad and I will be slowly reviewing a few more in the coming weeks. Lets hope I uncover a few gems.

    • Robert said

      I am trying the Maple Crown Royal right now and find that the maple flavouring is just added. And boy did they add alot.

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