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J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels

Review: J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels  94.5/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published December 21, 2017

JP Wiser’s Last Barrels is an interesting new Canadian whisky which was produced from the last batches of whisky barreled under the direction of former J.P. Wiser’s Distiller Jim Stanski.

According to the media reports, in early 2001, Stanski decided to go rogue by making some whisky in more of a bourbon style. He began by blending the grains (80% corn grist, 11% rye and 9% barley malt) prior to mashing them. Then he let milk go sour in the J.P. Wiser’s lab and harvested the resulting bacteria (Lactobacillus) to use a starter culture for his bourbon-style mash so as to have a fermentation process similar to the sour mash process south of the border.

The whisky was set down in barrels later that year and are said to be the last barrels of Jim Stanski Whisky produced, hence the name Last Barrels. (Don’t worry, Jim didn’t get fired as a result of this experiment, he just moved up the ranks into management.) Incidentally, the mashbill of grains used was chosen by Stanski to replicate one used by the original J.P. Wiser in 1869.

J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels Canadian Whisky was aged for 14 years and bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 5/5

I like the J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels 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; my growing collection of heavy square J.P. Wiser’s bottles always attract my attention when I look at my Canadian Whisky collection. The heavy bottles look like decanters more than they do ordinary whisky  bottles, and when I pour out a dram for myself, there is a sense of satisfaction whenever I grab one.

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 I poured a sample into my glencairn glass, I saw the whiskey had a rich bronze colour which was very inviting. When I tilted the glass and gave it a slow twirl, I noticed a stubborn crest had formed at the top of the liquid sheen inside which began to drop fat droopy legs some of which refused to fall.

The breezes above the glass indicate to me that the Last Barrels is indeed very much like bourbon with aromas of rough oak and cedar, honeycomb, roasted corn, and baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon). Rich brown sugars are evident as is maple toffee, bittersweet chocolate, pipe tobacco and walnuts. Frankly I love the aroma which reminds me very much of one of my favourite bourbon whiskeys, Knob Creek.

In The Mouth 56.5/60

On the palate the whisky is sumptuous. I taste fresh oak and cedar flavours and spices almost as if the timbers had just been cut and made into fresh barrels for the whisky. (Easy everyone, I am not suggesting any actual cedar was used in those barrels, I am just describing a very cedar-like flavour within the whisky.)

The dram carries spicy heat throughout the delivery some of which is no doubt the heat from the higher alcohol content. This heat pushes forward flavours of spicy wood sap and rich baking spices (nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon). There is also an impression of rum-like molasses which appeals strongly to me. This is joined by dark caramel (treacle), granny smith apples, as well as canned fruit (peaches and apricots) and marmalade. The implied sweetness provides a suitable counterbalance to the spicy heat and alcohol push of the whiskey. Vanilla flavours wash through the whiskey as do bittersweet chocolate and roasted walnuts.

The Last Barrels is an impressive whisky with a robust and balanced flavour.

In the Throat 14/15

The finish is long with both the sweetness of caramel toffee left upon the palate, and with wood spices swatting the tonsils and the back of the throat. The mouth is left puckered and glowing with the residue of baking spices, vanilla, caramel and chocolate. A touch of bitterness right at the end seems to just the right foil for the lingering sweetness.

The Afterburn  9.5/10

J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels is a firm robust whisky. It is very bourbon-like to the point that I do not believe I would be able to pick it out of a blind line-up as a Canadian Whisky. The spirit appears to be a one-off, as there is no indication from J.P. Wiser’s that Jim Stanski’s experimental ways were adopted by another rogue distiller after he left for upper management. We can always hope that I am wrong as it would be wonderful for this path of Whisky to be continued in Canada.

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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