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Wiser’s Special Blend

Review: Wiser’s Special Blend Canadian  Whisky 80/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Re-Scored and Re-published September, 2017

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 Special Blend is part of the Corby whiskies which has not been re-branded into the J.P. Wiser’s family which leads me to believe the brand may be soon phased out. For now though it appears on the bottom rung of the family as a lower shelf offering meant to be served as a mixing whisky. I have found that it has a little more to offer.

In the Bottle: 4/5

Pictured to the left is the bottle of Wiser’s Special Blend.  It is a medium-tall bottle with a square shape.  (One thing I love about the square-shaped bottles is how easily they stack on my whisky shelf. )  The label design is assertive and bold and the only quibble I have with the presentation is the flimsy metallic screwcap closure.

In the Glass  8/10

In the glass, the Wiser’s Special Blend shows itself as a rich copper coloured whisky with lighter shades of amber. The breezes from the glass are mildly spicy with both wood and grain spice as well as hints of orange peel. Some butterscotch sweetness is present as well as a lightly fruity character.

In the Mouth  48/60

Bringing the Special Blend to my mouth, I taste caramel, light oak spices, and a mild rye flavour carried by sweet fruit (pears and apples).  It tastes good, but lacks the typical full thrust of flavour I expect from a Canadian whisky.  There is  perhaps a touch of maple and cinnamon riding in the very background. The style is  easy going with a flavour profile that is light and inoffensive with a mild Canadian character.

In the Throat 12/15

For a young mixing whisky, Wiser’s Special blend is  smooth.  The finish is light caramel with a touch of sweetness.  A dash of rye-like burn brightens the finish at the end.  The smoothness bodes very well for mixing cocktails and party drinks.

The Afterburn 8/10

Wiser’s Special Blend is a prototypical cocktail whisky.  It can be served with coke, or ginger ale and I doubt anyone will complain.  It has such an easygoing style that it will go down smooth without any rough spots. Finally, the whisky has light flavours and  an entirely inoffensive nature.  I think this would be the perfect whisky to serve at large gatherings where you are unsure of the range of palates.

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)

4 Responses to “Wiser’s Special Blend”

  1. James from Canada said

    Great reveiw , yeah I really enjoy this whisky too , it is great for mixing with pop espically with coke I do agree that it has a nice sweetness and little maple flavor , but overall a well rounded great whisky no doubt it’s around $23.90 a 26er (750 ml) a bottle in Canada which is a bit cheaper to the other canadian whiskys for example crown royal probally one of the best known canadian whisky to Americans is around $27-28 a 26er. If you drink vocka here’s a great mix recipe . For a lime and coke all you need is a lime , coca cola , your choice of vocka I would recommend Smirnoff because to that is of the best mixing vocka for cocktails ,,,, and a small whisky glass , Take 3 ounces of vocka and cut the limes up into slices squeeze half ounce or full ounce of lime juice or lemon juice , when your done squeezing put the left over slices in the cup and top of the glass with coke add four ice cubes stir it up , put a lime on the edge of the glass for garnish and appearance and serve . Great for partying very easy to make very simple aha thanks

  2. Mike said

    Hey Chip, love the reviews. There is something I would like to mention for consideration. I am by no means an expert but it strikes me that one should be cynical regarding the colour of most whiskies. As I’m sure you’re aware it is a common practice among blenders and distillers to add caramel colouring to their whiskies (straight bourbons excepted). Thus I think it is meaningless to try to ascertain anything at all from a whisky’s colour, with two exceptions: when the colour is light and you can infer that no colouring was added, or when the distiller/blender specifically states a lack of added colour. For an example I look to Alberta Premium, whose 5-year-old and 25-year-old whiskies seem to be nearly or exactly the same colour. Meanwhile Century Reserve 21 is considerably lighter than them both.

    I don’t mean to sound critical or to diminish your reviews at all; I just thought you might give that some consideration when discussing “in the glass”, that colour is often altered to suit the desired presentation and in that way is only about as telling as the shape of the bottle and design of the label. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Thanks Mike

      I agree that many parts of my reviews (and everyone elses) should be treated with skepticism. Colour, can be altered, flavour can be changed with adulterants, age statements can be misleading, et cetera. I try to avoid these pitfalls by speaking primarily about my enjoyment of each part of the experience. I believe that in the long run quality will be enjoyed, and deception will not. But it is not a perfect world and I, like anyone else, can be fooled.
      Having said that I do enjoy a richly coloured whisky that displays that nice copper colouration. So although the reason for the colour I see may not necessarily indicate quality, it does indicate enjoyment and should therefor be talked about. I am careful to weight such factors appropriately, which is why such things as presentation (label and bottle design) only merit 5 % of the total score. When I am talking about the experience in the glass, the nose probably accounts for 90 % of the score, my description of the legs, and the colour are really very minor considerations, but they are easy to distinguish and to be honest do give me enjoyment when I observe them so I talk about them. What is really the most important for me, and I believe the vast majority of my audience is the taste, and my reviews are skewed very heavily towards this aspect.

      • Mike said

        Very good point. I’m a sucker for fancy bottles as long as they’re not over-the-top, and of course the packaging has no bearing on the quality of the product. I suppose it is much the same with a whisky’s colour; it enhances the visual enjoyment of it, which is part of the experience. Great reply.

        Something funny I just remembered: on the Highland Park website their master distiller gave some whisky tasting tips. He said one should pay little mind to the whisky’s colour, “unless it is cloudy, in which case it should not be drank but poured away.” I thought, Wow, never heard of non-chillfiltered whisky? I feel sorry for anyone following that advice.

        Anyway thanks for the reply. I look forward to more of your reviews. I’d like to read about the Murray McDavid Arran Malt that recently became available here.

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