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J.P Wiser's Union 52

Average score from 3 reviews and 4 ratings 90

J.P Wiser's Union 52

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@Nozinan
J.P Wiser's Union 52

A very special review for a very special day. As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday I thought I would celebrate with my 100th review and of course it HAD to be a Canadian whisky.

This whisky was released exclusively in BC, and is part of the company’s Collector Series. According to the keen palate of @Paddockjudge, my mentor in all whiskies Canadian, and confirmed by Dr. Don Livermore himself (how come whenever his name comes up I always think about effect of ethanol on liver tissue…), this is essentially Wiser’s Red Letter (96%) mixed with a 52 year old Highland Malt Scotch (4%). They would not disclose the origins of the Scotch, and it’s unclear whether it was in fact matured in Canada or Scotland (though @Paddockjudge’s review suggests it slept in Walkerville, so technically it is not Scotch). The strength of the malt was about 45%.

To make this an extra special review for Canada day I decided to review this whisky in a number of different glassware types, most of them on separate days. I’ve recorded four sets of tasting notes with some universal comments at the end.

Warning: This may be the longest review in Connosr history.


Canadian Whisky Glass – Glencairn - June 15, 2017

Nose:

On first sniff, a hint of bourbon. Then artificial cherry flavour, and some red grape juice. Then the smell of the way Bazooka pink bubble gum tastes, including that powder. Hint of skunk musk (actually, in a good way). Layered aromas, but a little light. 22/25

Taste:

Sweet arrival, a little grape juice, some spiciness. Sour development with pepper. Not too complex but pleasant. 21.5/25

Finish:

Astringent, bitter wood, medium-short. 21/25

Balance:

Nicely balanced. Pleasant to sip, not overly complex but the flavours complement each other. 22/25

Score: 86.5 /100

This is a nice example of Canadian Whisky.


Original Glencairn - June 17, 2017

Nose:

Fresh, fruity first sniff. Sour cherry, green apple, maybe a hint of cinnamon. Some of the spiciness I smell in other Canadian ryes. Hint of wood varnish or violin bow Resin. Light syrup. Layered nose. Quite interesting. 22/25

Taste:

Spicy arrival. Sweet. Vanilla and caramel. Fruit in the background. Peppery on the development into the finish. 21.5/25

Finish:

Peppery, astringent , fairly long lasting. 21/25

Balance:

The nose and the palate are suited to each other. The flavours are nicely balanced. 22.5/25

Score: 87/100


Kentucky Bourbon Glass - June 19, 2017

Nose:

Intense sweet purple grape, as in Mr. Freeze grape flavour. Some caramel in the background. I get a hint of “Canadian Rye”. The nose keeps changing every time I come back to it. Fascinating. 22/25

Taste:

Sour grape, with sweetness, spice, pepper and vanilla on the development. 21/25

Finish:

Tannic, astringent, slightly sour. Quite long. *21/25**

Balance:

This is a little sweet on the nose, and the flavours are a little muted on the palate. 21.5/25

Score: 85.5/100

Definitely a different experience from the other two glasses so far.


Miniature Glencairn - June 21, 2017

Nose:

Sweet fruit, a little rye spice. A little dusty. A little floral. Very “Canadian”. I have to stick my nose right into this glass but what I can smell is quite nice. 21.5/25

Taste:

Mild sweet arrival with some spiciness on the development. Flavours not as strong as with other glasses. 21.5/25

Finish:

Astringent, dry finish. A little peppery. 21/25

Balance:

Nicely balanced. A pleasant dram (would taste better with friends). 22/25

Score: 86/100


Brandy Snifter - June 23, 2017

Nose:

When I poured it I initially got bright fruits and rye spices. After covering I get a very strong ethanol hit. With careful sniffing I get the fruits, some syrup, polish/model glue. Vanilla and spices are still there. Red delicious apples. Great nose when I avoid the alcohol. 22/25

Taste:

Fruity, rye spices fill my mouth, sweet with a tannic development. Caramel. A little thin. 21.5/25

Finish:

Dry. Tannic. Sour. Medium long. You can feel the fruits on your breath. 21.5/25

Balance:

Nicely balanced, but the ethanol gets concentrated if you leave it covered more than a minute. 22/25

Score: 87/100


Narrow Tapered Wine Glass - June 23, 2017

I left it covered to watch the last inning of the Jays game and came back with a refreshed palate.

Nose:

Rye forward. Spicy. Hint of apple. Not as strong as my last glass’ nose. 21/25

Taste:

More complex than the nose. Rye spice and fruits on the arrival, very rich, layered. 22/25

Finish:

Oak, a little sour, a little bitter, quite short. 21.5/25

Balance:

The nose is underpowered but the palate is spot on. Not too sweet, not too spicy. 22/25

Score: 86.5 /100


I’m impressed with the variation in what I smell and taste based on the glass that I’m using, despite the fact that there’s only a 1.5 point variation in scores. I’m not used to trying the same whisky so often in such a short time frame and I feel like the experience has allowed me to get to know it in a new way.

This is a good whisky. Certainly it has strong, robust flavours. Would I like to try it at cask strength? Of course, but it holds its own at 45%.

Total Adjusted Score based on enjoyment: 88/100


Second to last in this review, I note that I’ve scored each of the Wiser’s special releases 88/100, so the only thing I can do is try them H2H2H, all three in a standard Glencairn.

Nose:

I have to give this one to the Dissertation. It has a fruity quality (something sweet, tropical and slightly over-ripe) which mingles with its syrupiness. The Last Barrels has a stronger nose but there’s something just slightly off tonight, sour milk? U52 comes in a little softer than the Last Barrels, but a little nicer.

Taste:

The dissertation attacks the palate with rich spiciness, the Last Barrels is less fruity and spicy and has that umami quality I mentioned in my review, and [see above for tasting notes on U52]. Again I’ll go with the dissertation first and the U52 second.

So in a triple head to head I think my favourite of the three is the Dissertation.


Of course, Canada Day celebrates the coming together of the different provinces and territories to create one great nation. So on June 23 I poured equal parts of the three from my H2H2H into a small bottle and let them marry. What will this “Confederation” produce?

Wiser’s Last Union Dissertation Barrel 52 - June 27, 2017

Nose: I get a bourbony quality, some dust. Fruitiness. Artificial cherry, hint of rye bread.

Taste: Dry, spicy arrival, sweet and sour development. Spicy. peppery

Finish: Medium short. Astringent. A little sour and bitter (in a good way.

Balance: Despite this being a 1:1:1 mixture of three different whiskies, I think it balances out nicely. But its more interesting to taste each one separately.


Happy Canada 150!

@Nozinan, congratulations on your 100th Connosr review, and Happy Canada Day # 150!

That is an impressive list of contrasting glassware takes on the whisky. You've got the fastball, change-up, and slider covered. Add in some truly bizarre glasses, like the NEAT glass and the Norlan glass and you will also have the curveball and screwball as part of your repertoire. A big bulb snifter will probably also frequently give some significant variation as well. All in all, it looks like a lot of work with all of those glasses. Fun to read, though. Thanks!

@OdysseusUnbound There's still lots left at the LCBO.... you can pick up a spare or 2.

I have to admit I've only tried the dissertation a couple of times, my experience is more with the Union 52 as I revisited it often for this review. But what I have tasted I have liked. I am currently looking at my options (I want to end the year with no more unopened bottles than I started with (right now I'm at -1)) but I'm leaning towards having a couple for the future. Because once they're gone....

I feel the same way about the Union 52. I would have been happier with a couple of bottles as a back up, but there was a limit to what I could procure, and nothing is forever... I have absolutely no regrets about the bottles that found their ways to other parts of Ontario.

@talexander

Available exclusively in British Columbia (though there might not be any more left), Union 52 is part of Wiser's Collector's Series of limited edition bottlings. This one is called Union 52 because it actually has a few drops of 52 year old Highland single malt scotch in it! (Yes, you can do that in Canada). Apparently the scotch is from a single cask from Wiser's "archives". So once this bottling is gone, it is gone. Thanks to @Nozinan for helping me obtain this puppy.

The colour is a deep amber. Rich on the nose with caramel and vanilla, with a curious hint of peat in the background. Slightly astringent. Raspberries and cloves; it's also quite floral. Dark honey. Honeydew melon. Freshly baked apple pie. Water brings out some honey-covered granola and a bit more peat smoke. Interesting interplay between the sweet Canadian notes and the peat-friendly scotch, but I haven't yet decided if it's entirely successful, despite the complexity.

Creamy on the palate, with apples, dates and plums. Thick caramel - and that hint of peat is even quieter. Peppery arugula. Soft tannins (perhaps that scotch is from a sherry cask? Not likely though...) I can't get over how creamy this mouthfeel is - it is extremely luxurious....especially with water, which also brings out more oak. Really delicious, I feel almost spoiled...

The finish features wood, fresh herbs and more caramel. Unusual Canadian whisky, particularly on the nose. I mentioned earlier that I was undecided about that element, but now that I've explored it a bit more I do think it works, though not as much as the rich, luscious palate. The scotch adds a dimension that you don't usually see in a Canadian. It doesn't send this one into the stratosphere, but this bottle is definitely something you should seek out if you can. I don't know if there are any other Canadian whiskies with scotch in them (there might be as they don't have to disclose it) but as far as I know this is the only one. Then again....why would Wiser's have a 52 year old cask of single malt scotch hanging around? Did they use up any others already? Hmmmm.

I was waiting for this one. Very nice review. I'm glad we were able to source some from BC. It's good to have willing accomplices in all provinces.

I've been working on my own review of this one, but it's not quite ready. I have a feeling we're all going to be very close in score...

@paddockjudge

Union 52

A blend of 16 Y0 Canadian and 52 YO Highland Malt in a ratio of 25 to 1. The Scotch had been sleeping at the Walkerville campus for decades, eighteen barrels that I estimate to have been holding approximately 34 gallons of well-aged whisky.

The delicious aroma first greeting my nose is reminiscent of Macintosh’s Toffee, quickly followed by over ripe bananas and candied fruit with a whisp of desiccated coconut, whole cloves, and a hint of smoke. There is no mistaking this for Red Letter. New oak makes its presence known quickly.

This is an oak lover’s dram; I am in love. The silky entry presents honey, oaky bitterness and cigar wrapper with a sprinkle of rye spiciness. There is a richness that exceeds previous batches of Red Letter, this might be the extra years in oak or perhaps the long-aged scotch (in a wine-charged cask), or both - peppery tingle fades into a dry, clean finish leaving honey on the tongue and a faint echo of citrus pith.

This is another brilliant whisky from Don Livermore and his crew at Wiser’s. Two thumbs up from paddockjudge.

@talexander, I did some quick math based on existing Red Letter bonds and came up with 16 years. Most reviews claim that it is 15 years.

@paddockjudge, great review. Great whisky. This one is easily 91 points for me, probably more.

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