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
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
Sweet arrival, a little grape juice, some spiciness. Sour development with pepper. Not too complex but pleasant. 21.5/25
Astringent, bitter wood, medium-short. 21/25
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
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
Spicy arrival. Sweet. Vanilla and caramel. Fruit in the background. Peppery on the development into the finish. 21.5/25
Peppery, astringent , fairly long lasting. 21/25
The nose and the palate are suited to each other. The flavours are nicely balanced. 22.5/25
Kentucky Bourbon Glass - June 19, 2017
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
Sour grape, with sweetness, spice, pepper and vanilla on the development. 21/25
Tannic, astringent, slightly sour. Quite long. *21/25**
This is a little sweet on the nose, and the flavours are a little muted on the palate. 21.5/25
Definitely a different experience from the other two glasses so far.
Miniature Glencairn - June 21, 2017
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
Mild sweet arrival with some spiciness on the development. Flavours not as strong as with other glasses. 21.5/25
Astringent, dry finish. A little peppery. 21/25
Nicely balanced. A pleasant dram (would taste better with friends). 22/25
Brandy Snifter - June 23, 2017
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
Fruity, rye spices fill my mouth, sweet with a tannic development. Caramel. A little thin. 21.5/25
Dry. Tannic. Sour. Medium long. You can feel the fruits on your breath. 21.5/25
Nicely balanced, but the ethanol gets concentrated if you leave it covered more than a minute. 22/25
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.
Rye forward. Spicy. Hint of apple. Not as strong as my last glass’ nose. 21/25
More complex than the nose. Rye spice and fruits on the arrival, very rich, layered. 22/25
Oak, a little sour, a little bitter, quite short. 21.5/25
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.
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.
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!
@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.
@Victor Thanks for the good wishes. I used the glassware I had on hand. The only things I left out were tumblers and a couple of wine glasses that I never use at home, oh, and a shot glass. I think that trying a port pipe would have been helpful. I may add that in the future.
I'm always looking for new glassware to experiment with. My recommendation would be that the next time we get together, we try one (I think only one is feasible) of the expressions in as many glasses as we can find.