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J.P Wiser's Legacy

The Saga of Canada's Sleeping Giants

6 988

@cricklewoodReview by @cricklewood

18th Mar 2019

0

  • Nose
    22
  • Taste
    23
  • Finish
    22
  • Balance
    21
  • Overall
    88

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Ask many whisky drinkers how they feel about Canadian whisky and many don't have a good opinion of it, there are many reasons why but they all boil down to the same conclusion. There is just too much, low proof, smooth harmless whisky being released. It's like they got stuck in the 70's and didn't budge. What if people don't want to drink high proof flavor bombs you ask? Well bourbon is flying off the shelves here, The LCBO made a Facebook event for Old Weller 107 & 12 and everyone crapped themselves and cleared the shelves within a week. Lot 40 Cask Strength almost caused a riot (well a Canadian riot so a really polite one) upon release and folks have been clamoring for offerings of the same caliber as we are getting from elsewhere in the whisky world.

Not all is lost, the tide is turning albeit very slowly, the release in 2017 of Corby's Northern Border Collection was a major step in the right direction. Many would trace the turning point to 2012 as Wiser's re-release of Lot no. 40 and Pike Creek but I think the true beacon and to me still one of the best examples of what good blending can bring to the category was J.P. Wiser's Legacy.

Legacy was released sometime in 2010, it was a tribute to it's namesake and was unique on a few points. At the time there were few "ultra-premium" Canadian whiskys (Wiser's Red Letter and some Crown Royal Editions) but this differed in that not only did it push a very rye forward recipe but also sported a proper drinking ABV of 45%. It had a good amount of success but in the final years of it's availability (2016-2017) was largely ignored by folks and was ultimately discontinued. (I think in part because it would have competed with Corby's other new products) Sadly I believe it was not exported much either, so few outside of Canada had knowledge of it's existence.

I've blabbed enough let's dive in and see what makes this one so special.

Nose: Caramel corn, mackintosh toffee, golden delicious apple and a little barrel char perhaps? Then a good dose of cloves, allspice, and ginger, the addition of that Wiser's pot-still rye (AKA Lot No 40) is very apparent here in the middle. There is a bit of a lemon pith bite, you can feel the alcohol on the nose but it's not harsh , it gives zing and there's a lingering creamy, buttery bread note too. Really pleasant!

Palate: Sweet oak, brown sugar, a slight mineral tang, lemon zest, pretty silky entrance from the corn which then leaves behind the spicy and fairly drying astringency, it seems like it sticks to the middle of your palate. It has this boldness that many other blends lack.

Finish: Medium in length but effective, on lingering warm spices, maple butter, cedar and a minty, coppery tang.

The Blab (yes more of it): I like that it's still clearly a Canadian whisky but you see what a bit of boldness and good blending chops can bring to the game, definitely a yardstick by which to measure other entries in the category.

Don't get me wrong I am not shitting on other products, I think there is a place for all types of whiskies, I just think too many products are operating in the same spectrum and there is a notable void created by the absence of premium Canadian whisky. It's not like we don't have good stocks, look at how much of it leaves the country and is sold under the guises of Whistlepig, Masterson's, Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrels and so on.

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9 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@cricklewood which release year was this bottle of Legacy? They do vary from year to year. Legacy from 2010 and probably 2011 and 2012 were fabulous. Later releases showed more anise flavour, which I do not like in whisky. Regardless, Wiser's Legacy is the best of what Canada has to offer. By 2013 there were a few bottles of Wiser's Legacy being sold in the US, although I bought all of my bottles in Canada.

BTW if that Weller Antique and 12 yo were released almost anywhere in the US with prior public notice they would have been gone in an hour, and that only if you put limits on bottles per customer.

I am so happy I came into this hobby when nobody liked whisk(e)y. I was able to buy a lot of great stuff for little money, because I was willing to like something contrary to the flow of public taste.

7 months ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Victor sadly the bottle code is not very clear but I can tell by the label that it's from the final years of production post 2015.

I know there was a bit of a shift in profile on this whisky over the years, perhaps it is in part due to change of production on the rye, which might make sense in relation to that anise/licorice note.

Oh I know the Bourbon mania is real, it even extends to things like Blanton's which is apparently rare as hen's teeth in certain states it seems. A better example would be the arrival of JD barrel Proof at the SAQ, the first time I see it for sale in Canada I believe, or even the way things like Knob Creek Single Barrel sell here. If this isn't an indication that people are looking for and ready for full bodied, flavorful whiskys, I don't know what is.

It's much like anything that runs counter to popular tastes that one days shifts, I am happy to see the things I love get the recognition they deserve even if it pains me that it means I may have a harder time indulging in the very things I loved.

7 months ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@cricklewood, that's a big mark from you, 88. I haven't had a bad bottle of Legacy, they are all great. There is batch variation and for that I am thankful, if they all tasted the same I'd say they were doctored. lol

We know from having access to two vintages of cask strength Lot No 40 that batches will vary for any of a number of reasons, such as discontinuation of malted rye in the mash or simply the selection process for mature barrels.

I sometimes blend my own Legacy to suit my mood. With an ample stock of Lot no 40 Cask Strength on hand I'll be doing this for years to come (Thank you @Nosebleed and @Nozinan and Alberta Tim and ....)

7 months ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@paddockjudge by definition, WIser'e Legacy must be "Doctored"

7 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@cricklewood "sleeping giant" is a curious title for a discontinued whisky. Not only has Wiser's Legacy slept, it has croaked, at least as far as most people in the world getting to try it is concerned. I have since April 2011 been a giant fan of Wiser's Legacy, at least of the 2010-2012 releases of it. This 2019 review is more like a post-mortem of a classic, sort of like saying, "Hey people of the world: go back to 2005 and buy 30 yo Ardbeg", or "Go back to 2009 and buy up Pappy Van Winkle." I am happy to be sitting on some bottles of Wiser's Legacy, and I wish that @RianC could taste them, because I like the early releases of Legacy much more than I like Lot 40, standard or 2017 CS. Tempus fugit. You snooze, you lose. There is no going back to the opportunities of yesteryear, and while there are plenty of tasty items out there, some of the very best stuff of a few years ago is very hard to experience without paying through the nose to get it.

7 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor The difference between Legacy and something like Brora or Rosebank or the old Ardbegs, is that this expression, because it is a blend of readily available whiskies, can easily be put into production again and be as consist as it used to be.

7 months ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan to me Legacy was not very consistent as the years went on. Missing the 2010-2012 Legacy was just like missing the 30 yo 1975 Ardbeg. In both cases the ship had sailed after the fact.

7 months ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Victor, the title is the one that I used for my blog post which was much longer. I edited the text here for the sake of brevity, it's a reference to the millions of barrels of whisky tucked away in the warehouses of ADL,Hiram Walker, Crown Royal and Black Velvet.

All that potential is there sleeping, how some of the better barrels are being vatted away in all manner of tepid releases. It was also a way to highlight that a release of the caliber of the Northern Border collection did exist beforehand, it's not necessarily new, just unexplored.

Yes reviewing a discontinued whisky is perhaps limited in its usefulness, yet I know many bottles of Legacy still exist in the wild. It's also possible for them to vat together this recipe again, yes there will be inconsistencies with batches but that's bound to happen, I just think we could use more of this kind of thing on the market.

7 months ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@cricklewood nicely explained. Thank you. One cannot have too much Wiser's Legacy. Reading that Wiser's Legacy is Don Livermore's own personal favourite increases my estimate of Dr. Livermore.

7 months ago 2Who liked this?

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