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Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release (2013)

Review:Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky (2013)  91.5/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on December 4, 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 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.

Wiser’s 18 Year Old is a Limited Release bottling totaling only 3500 bottles for each batch produced. Because this is such a limited bottling, the number of whisky barrels selected to produce each batch is relatively small. In fact, according to Hiram Walker Mater Blender, Dr. Don Livermore, the number of casks selected for each bottling of Wiser’s 18 Year Old is in the range of only 15 to 20 ex bourbon casks per batch. With such a small group of barrels to work from, it is inevitable that variations will exist between separate batches.

I have not reviewed this whisky for over three years, and since we know that we can expect the whisky to change a little from batch to batch, I decided it would be appropriate to provide a new review based upon the sample bottle provided to me this past summer for my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown series.

Wisers 18 Bottle ShotIn the Bottle 5/5

I like the Wiser’s 18 Year Old 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 Wiser’s 18 bottle.

I also like how each bottle is individually numbered, and I like the solid cork at the top which adds ambiance with that satisfying ‘pop’ sound as it is opened.

In the Glass 9/10

When I pour the Limited Edition Wiser’s 18 Year Old into my glencairn glass, I notice two things right off the start. First I notice the bright amber/copper colour which seems to flash in the light with speckles of gold, and then more importantly, I notice a clean spicy woodiness seems to be just pouring out of the glass. If you like oak spice, I think that the Wiser’s 18 will be your panacea of Canadian Whisky.

I let the glass sit for several minutes, and when I returned the spice had not relented; however, I was also noticing much more now. Alongside the wood spice with its rush of white pepper and orange peel was the unmistakable scent of fruit-filled rye grain. A sweetness of toffee and butterscotch was in the air as well as hints of dark luscious fruit (prunes and canned cherries) all seemingly nestled within a menagerie of oak spice, wood sap and rye grain.

After my sampling session was over, I returned to the empty glass and I could smell rich baking spices with rum-like brown sugars, old leather, tobacco, more toffee, some vanilla, and wisps of cinnamon white pepper and cloves.

In the Mouth 54.5/60

As I took my first sip, the whisky seemed to coat my mouth with a light oiliness and fill my taste receptors with impressions of oak sap and tobacco which were permeated with a light treacle-like sweetness which reminded me almost more of dark rum than whisky. Then, the rye flavours started to gel, and as those fruity rye flavours built up my imagination was forced to abandon all thoughts of rum. This is unmistakably Canadian Whisky!

The oak spice continued to build in unison with the rye bringing forward to my mind thoughts of orange peel, cinnamon, and white pepper. However, as you continue to sip, the sweetness within the whisky seems to find itself again, as the orange peel turns to marmalade and the spicy cinnamon and white pepper to toffee. I found the whisky to be very well-balanced and very tasty to sip upon.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The finish brings both the spiciness of oak sap and a light  sweetness of dark brown sugar through the back of the palate and down the throat. My mouth is left with lingering flavours of pepper, cinnamon and glowing cloves; but there is enough sweetness present to bring to mind impressions of fudgey toffee as well.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

Although this particular batch of Wiser’s 18 Year Old Whisky (2013) perhaps did not reach the heights of grandeur which I experienced in 2010 with what was one of my best whisky experiences to date (the Wiser’s 18 Year Old Whisky (2010)); the 2013 expression nevertheless impresses me greatly. This is an oak filled monster of a whisky which runs your taste buds through a gauntlet of spice, and then tempers them with a light toffee sweetness. The overall result is marvelous!

You may read some of my other Whisky 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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