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J.P. Wiser’s 35 Year Old

Review: J.P. Wiser’s 35 Years Old Canadian Whisky  (84/100)
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published April 5, 2018

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 spirit 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 side by side with 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, and 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, 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.

Recently, J.P. Wiser’s released their oldest production Canadian Whisky, J.P. Wiser’s 35 Year Old. The whisky is part of their new Northern Border Collection and is constructed from a mix of well aged corn and rye grain whiskies (predominantly corn). The spirit was released with remarkably little fanfare across the country in 2017 just before the Christmas gift giving season.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

My photo of the J.P. Wiser’s 35 Years Old whisky is pictured to the left. I like the 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 when holding the heavy bottle. I also like the solid cork at the top which adds ambiance with that satisfying ‘pop’ sound as it is opened.

I do have a bit of a quibble with the uninspired label which is basically a copy of the label used for the J.P. Wiser’s 15 and 18 Years Old Whiskies, as well as the clear plastic wrapped top which appears a little tacky. This is (I believe) the oldest whisky ever produced by Corby/J.P. Wiser’s for the Canadian Market, and it deserves a label that stands out rather than blends in with their other premium Canadian Whiskies.

In the Glass 9/10

When poured into my glencairn, the whisky displays itself as a rich copper coloured spirit. When I tilted and twirled my glass I saw a thickened liquid sheen on the inside which slowly releases a multitude of leglets which turn to medium fat legs which run back down to the whisky at the bottom of the glass.

Initially the breezes above the glass brought me a combination of fine oak spices melded with scents of both corn and rye grain. Then some lovely deep smells of maple began to build with vanilla and lush baking spices (cinnamon, brown sugar, with hints of both nutmeg and cloves.) Nutty almond impressions began to give way to marzipan and alongside were fruity smells of canned apricots and marmalade. As the glass sits the rich aroma continues to deepen. The scents and smells begin to meld together after about 10 minutes and it becomes difficult to separate the wood spice and the fruit from the maple and butterscotch. Within the menagerie of wonderful smells is a wisp of discord. A hint of mustiness (think of the mustiness of shucked corn cobs) seems to linger in the breezes.

In the Mouth 50/60

The 35 Year Old Whisky is deeply complex. Oak and rye spices meld with vanilla, baking spices, maple, and butterscotch. All of this is accompanied by an intense impression of musty corn cobs which runs throughout. Some will find the winding corn flavour delightful especially as it is quite different from our normal expectations; however for myself, I found the musty flavour was distracting me from the other flavours within the whisky which I would normally be enjoying. I would have prefer the oak, the maple, and the baking spices to have been the focus of my attention; but instead it is the musty grain which winds through the whisky which begins to dominates the dram.

When I examined this whisky last fall, my sample bottle showed very light signs of mold as well as the musty corn. That moldy taint appears to have been an anomaly, as lab samples, and my blind tasting sample which I received when acting as a juror for the Canadian Whisky Awards, were absent the taint (as is my new sample bottle); but the winding mustiness of the whisky has been a common feature of all samples I have tasted.

In The Throat  12.5/15

The finish is long and full of oak and robust grain flavours (in particular a firm musty corn). Some sweetness and hints of menthol give the finish an herbal quality which just misses the mark.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I suspect that J.P. Wiser’s 35 Year Old Whisky will be a bit of a polarizing dram. If you love musty corn cobs, the spirit might send you over the moon. But if you are like me, and find dry mustiness distracting, then the spirit may instead bring you disappointment. When I checked other reviews online, I saw that the ‘over the moon’ reviews outweighed were the norm; however, here and there I found others who were distracted as I was.  Definitely, this is a whisky which you should try before you buy, just to see which side of the fence you are on.

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

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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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