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Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky (2014)

Review: Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky (2014)  93.5/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on December 18, 2014

We can trace the origins of Wiser’s Whisky to 1857 when John Philip (J.P.) Wiser, purchased a distillery in Prescott Ontario and began to produce his 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.

This year I noticed that Wiser’s had increased its Limited Release production for its 18 Year Old whisky from a total of 3500 cases produced each year to 5600 cases produced. In the past the number of whisky barrels selected to produce each batch rum was 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 was 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. As this years bottling size has increased by 70 % perhaps we will see less batch variation going forward.

Last year, I reviewed a fresh bottle of the 2013 Wiser’s 18 Year Old Whisky when I was publishing my 2013 Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown series, and this year I have decided to open a fresh bottle from their 2014 production and review it during my 2014 Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown series, to see how the whisky fared this year.

Wiser's 18 SAM_1401In 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 such a nice bottle.

I also like how each bottle is individually numbered, (my particular bottle this year is numbered as coming from case 4728 of 5600) 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 the whisky has a rich golden colour and when I tilt and twirl my glass I see  thickish sheen of whisky has formed which drops medium-sized legs back into the bottom of the glass. Fine wood and clean spices drift upwards, followed by more orange and banana peel spiciness.

I let the glass sit for several minutes, and when I returned the clean wood and rye spices have not abated; however, alongside the wood spice I sense a growing sweetness of maple and butterscotch toffee. There is some lovely marzipan underneath and given enough time in the glass the orange peel begins to turn to marmalade as the orange peel spice melds into the butterscotch.

After my sampling session was over, I returned to the empty glass and I could smell maple, butterscotch toffee and rich baking spices, some bits of dry fruit and old leather, some vanilla, and wisps of cinnamon white pepper and cloves.

In the Mouth 56/60

As I took my first sip, the whisky coated my mouth with a light oiliness and heated my palate with fine oak spice. Maple follows almost immediately and the dichotomy of rich oak spice and sweet maple is very tasty. As the glass breathes, the maple and wood spice melt together and are joined by fruit filled rye, canned apricots, orange marmalade, hints of milk chocolate and rich underlying baking spices (cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar). The 2014 version of Wiser’s 18 Year Old is very appealing!

In the Throat 14/15

The finish is softer than I remember from last year featuring a triumvirate of flavour impressions resembling maple toffee, milk chocolate and little bursts of heated cinnamon. There is still a lot of spice but the toffee and chocolate act as the perfect counter-balance in the exit.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

I wrote my review of the 2014 Wiser’s 18 Year Old Limited Edition using my 2013 review as a guideline. It became obvious to me during my sampling sessions, that although this year’s edition of the whisky was certainly similar in overall taste profile to this the 2013 version, there did seem to be a noticeable difference in overall sweetness. Whereas peppery oak spice seemed to dominate the spirit last year; the 2014 version carried a stronger balance of maple and butterscotch flavours. My scoring was adjusted upwards in both the delivery and in the finish as this increased sweetness was very welcome!

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)


2 Responses to “Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky (2014)”

  1. Geoff said

    I’m surprised this fared so well. It seems that 2014 was the year that the 18 year old finally outperformed the Legacy for you. I was toying with which Wiser’s to bring back on a recent trip to Canada, and I ended up with the Legacy and the Red Letter. This will certainly be considered for next time.

    Thanks for a wonderful year-end round-up,

    • The Wiser’s 18 year old is subject to a lot of batch variation as alluded to in the review. This year’s bottle was great, hopefully that becomes the new standard for this whisky.

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