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J.P Wiser's Hopped

More in the bottle than bargained for!

1 1975

@dloewenReview by @dloewen

13th Nov 2017

1

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
    ~
  • Balance
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  • Overall
    75

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This whisky has been around for a few years now, always staring at me, begging me to give it a chance. Being into hoppy beers, this bottle intrigued me, but I was never willing to give it the shelf space at home considering so many other options. Then the local LCBO made the decision for me! The opportunity finally came when the store manager had to reduce their amount of product tags and clear-out price many whiskies to make room for up-coming Christmas releases.

There was the Wiser's Hopped, sitting under a layer of well earned dust, but wearing a tag of just $22! Here in Ontario, there is no such thing as a 750ml bottle of whisky selling for under $26, so I was powerless at this point. So let's get to the product...Apparently Dr. Don Livermore was pretty excited to bring this product out. Opposed to other flavoured whiskies, this one does retain the subtleties of the original whisky. It's dry-hopped to avoid too much bitterness from overpowering those said flavours inherent to the whisky. I was pleasantly surprised by the character in the bottle. Upon first opening, it comes across as coarse, rough, and a little "skunky". But once the contents of the bottle become oxygenated (and it doesn't take more than a few days after opening) the whisky develops into a very nice Canadian standard, with a twist. On the nose, there is dark rich character, caramel, and milk chocolate, preceded and followed at both ends by subtle hops.

On the palate, entry is soft, with a creamy mouthfeel. The "dark ale" flavour is present but hard to pin-point. The flavour profile itself is hard to tease apart, you could say the flavours are well-integrated. Taste follows the nose as caramel is dominant, with hops coming back in the mid-late development. Then, comes the remarkable thing, at the onset of the finish, there is a well-defined taste of dark chocolate truffles...like the ones with cocoa powder on them. Very interesting for a Canadian whisky!

Also, as an aside for the cigar smokers, Wiser's Hopped pairs well with a maduro, that I can vouch for.

In conclusion, it may not be for every palate, but in my opinion, this offers way more complexity than most bottles offer for under $30 in Canada. And anytime you find something in that price range that grabs your attention the way this one does, it shouldn't have to wear that much dust or drop its pants in public (er...I mean, price!) before you bring it home!

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19 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@dloewen, thanks for your nicely written review. Sounds like one I'd like to get a taste of.

6 days ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor I tried it at SOT and my notes say "not bad". Certainly not something I'll buy a whole bottle of. I have a small sample that came from @JasonHambrey that I'd be happy to share with you next time you're here.

6 days ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I'm not big on this one, though it's better than most flavoured whiskies, which are usually garbage. The best use I make of this is mixing it with ginger ale, which makes for a "beer"-like, hoppy, quite tasty rye-and-ginger.

5 days ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

75 seems a bit miserly for something you apparently liked. You wrote it up like 80+. What brought the marks down so low?

5 days ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Just a (kind of) random comment but whisky scores can be so weird. @BlueNote comments that "75 seems a bit miserly for something that you apparently liked" but in grade school 75% would be a B (which is a good grade! Especially for my kid) I would say, based on the score and the text of @dloewen 's review, he thought it was interesting and would score it above many Canadian whiskies in its price range, which I thing is fair. I didn't like it as much (I gave it a 59, which in the context of grade school means it passed but not by much) but I admit I have purchased a few bottles in the past (though have none at present) as I think it makes a damn good rye-and-ginger, which is one of my go-to mixers at home (whisky purists, go fuck yourselves. I'm a connoisseur, I'm a collector, I'm an investor, I'm a cocktail maker and I'm a mixer. I'm also a joker, a smoker, a midnight toker (well no that just makes me fall asleep)) Anyhoo, every whisky has its price, its place, its consumer. I don't like the Hopped as it stands but it has its place (and I know many very smart connoisseurs who love it). And though I am not a fan, I know its strengths and its (many) weaknesses and thusly I put it in its place (ginger ale, fa shizzle).

5 days ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@talexander or should I call you "The Gangster of Love?" wink

You make a number of good points re: the oddness of whisky scoring. Any score much under 75 is considered pretty much a failing grade. Ralfy won't even review anything he would score less than 80. Grading whisky is not the least bit like grading exams, but it is a value system that most of us who have been around for a while understand.

And, hey, nobody is going to heap scorn on you for mixing a good cocktail when the need arises.

Cheers.

5 days ago 0

@dloewen
dloewen commented

Thanks, I agree with the comments made by both of you! On the one hand, I am new to this community here at Connosr, so I may not fall in line with the "common thought" about grading or scoring whiskies. Hopefully that will come with time...But in my defence, I was aiming to give it a mark that reflected how good it was for its price, but keeping in mind where the score would fall in reference to a world filled with much better whisky. As for my positive tone, well I did want to counter some of the negativity this bottle has gotten in the past, root for the underdog if you catch my drift, because I truly see some value in this one even for the discerning drinkers among us! wink

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@dloewen Good points.

I think from my poor recall, that this is probably a 75 - 80 point expression. No need to apologize or defend that.

You are correct in setting that mark in comparison to what is available out there quality-wise (for instance, how does this stand up to a Aberlour A'Bunadh).

I think that is a stronger justification for your mark (not just because I agree with you) than putting a number on "good for what I paid for it".

Personally, I won't buy it because it's not something I like enough to get through a whole bottle. I would not buy it at $100 or $20.

Good "for the price" is not a criterion for purchase. But it can be used as an example that it doesn't have to be expensive to be good.

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

@dloewen
dloewen commented

Well said.

4 days ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@dloewen, if you read the many posts on this site, you'll see at least 5 or 6 conversations on the subject of whether price should ever be used as a criteria in grading whiskies. My POV and that of most, I think, is NO. Why? Price is a variable. It muddies up clear understanding of what the review score means. You castrate the effectiveness of your own review by including price considerations. I don't want to read reviews in which the reviewer is grading with respect to price. They are too difficult to translate into an honest review based only on quality.

4 days ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

I tend to agree with @Nozinan and @Victor that price shouldn’t influence score. That said, I feel like discussing price separately has its merits. Alberta Premium Dark Horse is, to my taste, a 77-80 point whisky (depending on the batch). Decent, but not mind-blowing. I buy it often enough though, because it’s so inexpensive and a lot of people who visit me/drink with me like it. And my forthcoming review of Wild Turkey 101 might surprise some as well, because it is so inexpensive, yet I seem to have hit upon a particularly good bottle.

4 days ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@OdysseusUnbound Totally agree - I try not to factor in price when scoring (though who knows if I'm doing it subconsciously), but sometimes I'll mention price in the review if I think it merits attention one way or another.

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@OdysseusUnbound, you get so gouged on price in Canada that I can begin to understand your fixation on it. Truly, if I had always to have paid LCBO prices, I don't think that I/we would ever have gotten seriously into whisky. When we got heavily interested 8-10 years ago it seemed outrageous to spend as much as $ 20 on a bottle-- here, of course. That was an everyday domestic whiskey drinker's perspective, for sure, and not that of a collector or haute-breuvage connoisseur (a little Quebecois French there, just for you). All I can say is "God Bless 'Ya!" and I hope that you can continue to afford to buy the bottles of whisk(e)y. If I bought all or almost all of my whisky from the LCBO I think I'd currently own about 30 bottles instead of 300.

4 days ago 2Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@Victor If I could afford to drink single malts (even fairly inexpensive ones) I would. My every day drams are very inexpensive (but good, IMHO) and it's only an occasional splurge when I buy something over $50-100 or even more (unless it's an investment bottling). re: LCBO where they are good at pricing is the BTAC lottery, where if you win you pay the basic retail price. Some limited releases are quite fairly priced as well, including the Diageo Special Releases which are often hundreds of dollars less than in the UK and elsewhere.

4 days ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@talexander, I have never for one minute doubted that you drink well, my friend!

But which products are we talking about here, as 'daily drinkers'?

Wait, let me guess one of them: Ballantine's Finest!

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor I think one should strive to drink "well" all the time. Or, at least, buy to drink well. If we only tasted the best we would not appreciate what we were tasting as much (even if we quite like it). I think knowing what JW Red, Fiddich 12, Lambertus (ok, an outlier) taste like can help us appreciate the subtleties of a Amrut single cask bourbon barrel.

Whether it's expensive or not is another matter. We should only buy to our ability to spend. Options include buying less but better, etc... But as has been said, it doesn't have to be expensive to be good, or good to be expensive.

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan, what keeps me from drinking extremely well all the time is that I simultaneously want to continue exploriing the bounds of what is there, good, bad, and ugly. I own a lot of A+ whisk(e)y, but my motivation to keep learning and exploring is nearly as great, maybe actually greater, than is my desire to drink well.

4 days ago 3Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@Victor Ha - perhaps! Also Maker's Mark, JWBlack (though that one's a bit of a splurge) and even standard Canadian Club. Another bit of a splurge will be Laphroaig, either Quarter Cask or 10yo.

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

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