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J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation

Review: J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation  95/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published December 22, 2017

Dr. Don Livermore is one of the foremost experts on Canadian Whisky. A graduate (with an MSc. and a PhD. in Brewing and Distilling) of Heriot Watt University, he started his career with Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd. as a microbiologist in quality assurance. Then, after working Research and Product Development for 11 years, he was named the Distillery’s Master Blender in January 2012. Don’s additional expertise includes the implementation of analytical techniques using infrared sensors in the brewing and distillation of alcohol, and he has authored a chapter in The Alcohol Textbook – 4th Edition, which is a standard industry reference book for engineers and scientists.

While Dr. Livermore was earning his PhD., one of the topics he was researching was the relationships between barrel aging, time and flavour. He did this by analyzing various types of oak barrels which were maturing whisky in the warehouses at Pike Creek, Ontario. The work he was doing eventually became the basis for his Thesis Dissertation which earned him his PhD. in Brewing and Distilling.

Fortunately for us, the Hiram Walker Distillery Master Blender has taken those same whisky barrels which he studied while earning his PhD. and artfully blended his J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation. The whisky is a rye forward blend bottled at 46.1 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 5/5

I like the J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation bottle with its squat square shape. It has substance, and although it is not as tall as some of my other whisky bottles upon my shelf; it nevertheless seems to command attention with its square masculine form. In fact, it looks like a decanter more than a bottle, and when I pour out a dram for myself, there is a sense of satisfaction in holding the heavy masculine bottle.

I also like the solid cork at the top which adds ambiance with that satisfying ‘pop’ sound as it is opened. (I could do without the tacky clear plastic covering over the cork. A nice foil wrap would look better.)

In the Glass 9.5/10

When poured into my glencairn, the whisky displays itself as a rich golden spirit which has begun to pick up the orange and red hues of amber. When I tilt and twirl my glass I see a thickened liquid sheen on the inside, the crest of which slowly releases medium fat leglets which turn to moderately thick legs which run back down to the whisky at the bottom of the glass.

This was one of the samples I scored blind when acting as a juror for the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards. My brief notes for In The Glass were as follows:

Nose: rye and rough wood with cedar and tobacco. Empty glass is luscious

When I examined the whisky after the awards and in isolation from the other spirits I thought that the nose was even nicer. There are some notes of burlap and maple syrup dipped graham wafers, rich marmalade, canned apricots and oodles of beautiful rye and oak spices. After my tasting sessions the empty glass was full of rich brown sugars, maple and baking spices reminding me of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls coming out of the oven.

In the Mouth 57/60

Flavour: Bitter rye with cedar and oak and just enough butterscotch to pull it 0ff … luscious

Against the robust flavours of bitter rye, cedar and oak is a light butterscotch sweetness which accents the whisky and the rye and the wood flavours to shine. In my final tasting session, I identified a lovely underlying nuttiness which reminded me of roasted walnuts, with rich tobacco, bittersweet chocolate, marmalade and hints of apricot brandy tagging along with the oak and rye. What impresses me the most is the wonderful balance displayed where rye and oak are the focal points of the whisky and everything else serves to accent and elevate those flavours.

In The Throat 13.5/15

Finish: A tad bitter with lots of pucker power, rough wood planks jar the mouth & throat.

Sipping the whisky neat is a bit of a rough and tumble experience, but I love it! When I added ice, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon oozed out of the oak.

The Afterburn 10/10

During my tasting sessions one word kept cropping up, luscious. And, there is no other word to better describe the full rye and oak flavour of J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation. I am hoping that the spirit was not a once done and its gone expression as this whisky is just to good to have only once.

You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


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)

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