Wiser’s Very Old Whisky (18 Years Old)
Review: Wiser’s Very Old (18 Year Old Whisky) 96/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on December 15, 2015
In the early 2000s, Wiser’s 18 Years Old Canadian Whisky carried the moniker ‘Very Old, and it was usually my whisky of choice when I wanted a special treat. By the time my website had opened, the spirit had been re-branded as Wiser’s 18 Year Old Limited Edition as such I never reviewed the whisky from the ‘Very Old’ bottle. However, in my collection of rare spirits, I still have a few that I purchased from that time before I began to write reviews. When I began my tasting deliberations for this countdown, I decided to sample one of these older bottles (purchased in 2006) next to some of my current favourites. It turns out, that in 2006 when the spirit was called still Wiser’s Very Old , it was quite spectacular (at least the 2006 version was).
In 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 sealed with a solid cork at the top which adds ambiance with that satisfying ‘pop’ sound as it is opened. The medallion with the red ribbon is a nice touch as well.
In the Glass 9.5/10
When I pour the Wiser’s Very Old into my glencairn glass, I notice the whisky has a coppery colour which deposits a rather thick sheen of whisky on the inside of my glencairn. The crest of that sheen is quite stubborn and it takes more than a few moments for thick droplets to fall. The initial breezes above the glass are full of rich maple and caramel accented by a heavy dose of fine oak spice.
As I let the glass sit for a few minutes, both the rich maple and caramel and the oak spice grew in intensity. I also noticed some nice rum-like baking spices evolving with vanilla, brown sugar cinnamon and cloves making my mouth water. Fruit-like scents of canned apricots, orange marmalade and rains added to the medley of scents and smells with some rich tobacco scent welling through as well.
After my sampling session was over, I returned to the empty glass and I could smell maple toffee, those same rum-like baking spices, land luscious damp tobacco.
In the Mouth 57.5/60
The older whisky seems to have more body than more recent bottlings as the whisky coated my palate with sappy oak and sticky maple and baked caramel. The spiciness is off the charts, but there is just enough sweetness to make sipping delightful. As I sipped I decided that the oak spices are fuller and chunkier than the other more recent bottlings as well with spicy marmalade, hot cinnamon and cloves, and bits of nutmeg all wrapped together with vanilla and brown sugar. As well, an impression of rich damp tobacco winds through that spiciness.
The whisky is very complex as I can add impressions of almonds, raisins, and canned fruit to my list of descriptors. It is no mystery to me why has been one of my most preferred whiskies since the turn of the century.
In the Throat 14/15
The whisky is full-bodied and coats the back of the throat with spicy sap and sweet caramel. As the spice dwindles, little pools of baking spices are left glowing on the palate. Bit of sweet maple and dark treacle provide soothing relief and finally at the end some bitter rye and chocolate dry the throat and beg another sip.
The Afterburn 10/10
It was an unexpected treat for me to open this bottle of Wiser’s Very Old from my personal collection. The Wiser’s 18 Year Old brand is probably Canada’s longest lived ultra-premium Whisky Brand. As far back as at least 1980, it could be found in select liquor stores and on the home bar shelves of discriminating whisky connoisseurs.
The bottle I reviewed today was purchased a full nine years ago and appears to have come from a particularly great batch. Hopefully J.P. Wiser’s continues to produce gems like this in the future.
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)