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Wiser’s Small Batch

Review: Wiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky   88/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published April 2010 (Revised and re-scored October 2016)

Founder, John Philip (J.P.) Wiser, purchased a distillery in Prescott, Ontario in 1857, and began to produce Wiser’s Whisky. In fact the J.P. Wiser Distillery may have been the first to use the term “Canadian Whiskey’ on their labels, as this is how the whisky was proudly introduced at the 1893 Chicago’s Wold’s Fair. From the beginning, J.P. Wiser established his brand as a quality whisky with high standards of production. As a result the distillery grew, as did the popularity of his style of whisky. 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 where all Wiser’s brands are currently produced. Through all of these changes the Wiser’s Brand has been recognized as a vital component of the company’s portfolio of brands, and now, 150 years later after it all started, Wiser’s remains one of Canada’s leading whisky brands. In fact, Wiser’s is one of the top-selling brands of Canadian Whisky worldwide.

Wiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky was released in the fall of 2008 replacing the Wiser’s Reserve. There were a few important differences in Wiser’s Small Batch which made it somewhat unique as far Canadian Whisky is concerned. First, it is made in small batches using traditional distilling methods, hence the name Wiser’s Small Batch, and secondly, the bottling strength is 43.4 % rather than the traditional 40 %. This slightly higher strength should allow the whisky to display more texture in the mouth and a more concentrated flavour and aroma.

small-batch-sam_2815In the Bottle  4/5

Wiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky has not yet been re-branded into the new J.P. Wiser’s family of whiskies. This may be because the brand received a make-over in late 2013 with a new label and bottle as shown to the left. I like the design especially the labeling which brings an emphasis to the small batch process. Unfortunately the bottle is now capped with a metallic screw cap. This gives the bottle a ‘bottom shelf’ look despite the nice label.

In the Glass 9/10

The whisky displays a nice amber brown toffee colour in the glass, with hints of deeper orange. A quick swirl of the liquid lays a nice oily sheen on the sides of the glass which coalesces into long slender legs which flow slowly back into the whisky. Oak and brown sugar rise from the glass which has a nice rum-like accent. As the glass breathes, rye spice, caramel, oak and cedar, corn, tobacco, marmalade and baking spices round out the nose which is remarkably deep and complex. I found nosing the glass to be thoroughly enjoyable.

In the Mouth 53/60

Wiser’s Small Batch is soft and supple on the tongue with hot oak spices which carry a bevy of flavour along for the ride across the palate. I taste some fresh oak and cedar; some sweet caramel, butterscotch and maple; soft corn and spicy rye; some light impressions of honeycomb and tobacco, and some delicious canned fruit (marmalade, apricots and pears). As I let the whisky sit in my mouth a Demerara sweetness forms with brown sugar and spice combining with honey to present a richly flavoured toffee.

The whisky has wonderful complexity and depth. I taste just enough sharp oak tannins to keep the entire trip across my palate fresh and invigorating.

In the Throat 13/15

I like the kick that the 43.4 per cent alcohol gives the Wiser’s Small Batch. It shakes up my taste buds, and the rich flavours fill my palate and throat. The whisky has a long mildly hot mildly bitter finish with the oak and toffee leading the way down the throat. Maple and brown sugar linger at the back of the palate well after the swallow.

The Afterburn 9/10

Wiser’s Small Batch is a great example of how good, economical Canadian Whisky can be. The whisky has wonderful depth of flavour, and I like the higher bottling strength which helps to concentrate that flavour, making it more assertive. In spite of the higher alcohol percentage, the whisky is smooth like Canadian whisky should be and a real pleasure to sip neat or to mix in cocktails.

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


Suggested Recipes

Here is a recipe suggestion which I devised when I first reviewed the Small Batch back in 2013. It still tastes yummy today!

The Wiser Mammy

2 oz Wiser’s Small Batch Whisky
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
dash of Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
1/2 cup Cracked Ice
Ginger Ale
Lime Zest

Remove thin strips of lime peel from a fresh lime
Fill a tall highball glass half full of chipped ice
Add the lime juice and the Wiser’s Small Batch Whisky
Top with ginger ale
Add a few threads of lime peel and stir gently.

As Always I want to remind everyone that my aim is not to help you drink more…it is to help you drink better!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


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)



13 Responses to “Wiser’s Small Batch”

  1. Robert said


    What changed from your original review?

    This is probably the only Wiser’s that i haven’t had yet. Wiser’s is always a safe choice for a good drink, i find.

    • Hi Robert

      My tasting notes this time around indicated a little more depth in the oak flavours than before. I noticed some honeycomb, some cedar, and a little more tobacco than before. Whether the whisky has really changed slightly, or whether I am just better at dissecting flavour is really a matter of conjecture, I suspect it is the latter.

      If you haven’t tried this Wiser’s yet then you should, it is probably their best bang for the buck.

  2. chris said

    Wiser’s Small Batch has to be my favourite whisky yet. I have several bottles stashed for emergencies along with a bottle of 18 year old Wiser’s, Legacy and 2 mickeys of deluxe. My favourite way to drink it is with Sprite and ice. I don’t drink very often, but when I do I drink Small batch.

  3. Kevin said

    The Small Batch was tasty indeed, quite the flavor bomb. However I found it had a slight bitterness to the finish. It would be worth trying with a cigar or dessert. I will give this one a 9/10.

  4. Jason said

    I am sure it is a exceptional whiskey. However, the cost of these types of whiskey is a bit to much for my pocket. However, I have tried weiser deleux when visiting the in-laws and it was a great flavorable whiskey that tickled the palate.

    • I have to admit I am always unconvinced when I get emails and comments that mid tier whiskies are too expensive. The last bottle I bought was less than thirty bucks.

  5. Yello to Mello said

    Hi Chip,

    I read your reviews from time to time. I decided to read this one after I tried it myself.

    This is a good whisky of course and especially for the price.

    I just wanted to point out that there is a typo in your ‘in the mouth’ review when you gave it 55/100. Of course you meant 55.60 😉

    • Typos are the bane of my existence. Sometimes after rereading my writings one hundred times, I go back to a review several months later and find yet another one. This one I missed but I am glad you found it.


  6. An excellent review of this fine whiskey, which I have tried for the first time tonight. Your descriptive qualitative is right on….thank you so much for the description…and your excellent review…I do agree…

  7. Sounds like this is one of the more complex flavor profiles for a Canadian whisky. I also sense that you would agree it is reasonably priced.

    I will have to pick up a bottle.

  8. Mike D said

    I would like to know how this whisky differs from Wiser’s Reserve, which I remember tasting quite similar. They are about the same price so I guess it doesn’t matter much. A pretty decent whisky at any rate.

    • It has been over two years since I tasted the Reserve, so bear in mind that I am going off memory here. The Small Batch seems to have a fuller, rounder, taste profile with a tad more sweetness that I remember in the reserve. The Resevre may have been l little dryer in the mouth as well.

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