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Wiser's Dissertation

Happy 150th, Canada! - Part VII of XIII

7 2292

@talexanderReview by @talexander

23rd Jun 2017

1

  • Nose
    23
  • Taste
    24
  • Finish
    21
  • Balance
    24
  • Overall
    92

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Hiram Walker Master Blender Don Livermore is not only responsible for the Wiser's line of whiskies, but also Corby's other brands such as Gooderham & Worts, Pike Creek and Lot 40. While still working as a distiller, he completed his Ph.D. in 2012, which was about how whisky interacts with the wood of various barrel types. His Dissertation bottling (how it is actually related to his Ph.D is a mystery) is matured in new virgin oak barrels. There is no age statement or any other more specific information on the label (hopefully there was more information on his actual dissertation...)

The colour is a reddish, coppery amber. On the nose it's big rye spice and wood smoke, with mint, red apple skins, dark honey and maple sugar. It's very rich in thick caramel and vanilla pods. Beef bovril. Sriracha? Hm maybe, maybe not... but the dominant notes here are certainly rye, spice and oak. Water bring out more spices, plus dark chocolate! Rich and beautiful.

On the palate - wow - huge spices (including rye, cinnamon, cayenne and paprika) with rich caramel, vanilla and charred oak. Maple-walnut. Brown butter. Water brings out a lot more rye notes. Extremely rich and complex.

The finish is medium-length with oak, cereal and a hint of maple. Quite simply one of the best Canadians I've ever had. Although the finish is a little lesser than the other senses, this is still an extremely finessed balance between the spice, rye and oak. This remains an excellent example of why Livermore is not only the best blender in Canada, but one of the best in the world. Winner of the World Whisky Award this year for Best Blended Whisky (Limited Release) in the World.

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22 comments

Astroke commented

Very good Whisky, I will replace mine with at least 1 more.

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Same here. I look forward to doing a H2H2H with U52 and Last Barrels.

about one year ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

Very nice review. This is as a beautiful RYE whisky. Gives me pleasant memories of brown "humbugs" (boiled/hard candy) at Christmas time, toffee with a hint of mint

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom commented

Love this whisky. I've added a few to my bunker. But it's not really a mystery how it relates to Livermore's doctorate, is it? He used 114 barrels during his research for his dissertation, and out of those he's blended 60 to create this release. There's no word (that I'm aware of) what the plans are for the remaining 54.

As for more information, here's some stats:

  • 12 years old
  • 87% rye (column and pot distilled to 70% and 80%)
  • 13% corn (double column distilled to 94%)
  • Put into barrels at 58% and 76%, and drained at 55% and 72%
  • Virgin oak using char #2 (88%) and char #4 (12%)
  • Non-chill filtered and no colour added

Stats courtesy of Toronto Whisky Society.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@Nelom Wow thanks! (I'm too lazy to do proper research) I guess when I say it's a mystery, I mean it's a mystery to the average consumer.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom commented

@talexander Oh, for sure it's a mystery to the average consumer, but I also suspect they don't really care. relaxed

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

There was a familiar element in the mid-palate of dissertation that carried into the finish. I spent some time in the lab this morning trying to find the connection, first with Red letter and then with Legacy. Here are the results. Mix Dissertation in a ratio of 3:2 with Highwood 20 YO, add a dollop of Deanston's Virgin Oak.

Recreation of Wiser's Legacy.

45 ml Highwood 20 YO

30 ml Wiser's Dissertation

1.25 ml Deanston's Virgin Oak Single Malt

Identical to Legacy batch L12304

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@paddockjudge so essentially dissertation takes over the role of Lot 40?

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@65glenfarclas
65glenfarclas commented

@Nelom None of that information is on the label. Therefore, with due respect to the insiders at TWS, the above "information" is simply hearsay.

about one year ago 0

@65glenfarclas
65glenfarclas commented

on the other hand, a 12 year old at $65 would look odd next to the $70 18 year old! I guess stories are worth more than age statements

about one year ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom commented

@65glenfarclas That information likely came straight from Don Livermore, so I'd consider it a lot more than hearsay, but if you don't want to take the TWS guys' words for it, just ask Livermore on Twitter. He's very active there and I'm sure he'd respond to you. His Twitter handle is @CDNWhiskyDoc.

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Nelom @paddockjudge

Am I to understand that to call the information hearsay is tantamount to heresy?

about one year ago 0

@65glenfarclas
65glenfarclas commented

Although the Canadian industry is years behind the Scots and Americans in terms of higher proof whisky, single casks, single distilleries, non-chill filtration, no added color, etc., for the most part, I like what Don Livermore is doing. Better late than never, right?

In fact, the only Canadian whiskies in my house are his creations (Lot 40, Wiser's 18, Legacy, Last Barrels, Dissertation, G&W 4 grain). That doesn't mean I'm willing to give him (more likely Corby's marketing department) a pass. If he's willing to disclose a whisky is at least 12 years old, why not put the number on the label? Why not state the whisky has not been chill filtered? Why not put on the label they have not taken advantage of the "1/11 rule"?

I may not have grown up yet but I'm not naive enough to take everything I read on labels as 100% truth! However, I'd rather see the info on a label than disclosed privately to a bunch of insiders.

As to Dr Livermore's twitter presence, he follows me and I used to follow him. A while ago I asked questions about the 4 grain. His answer would make a politician proud. That exchange led me to believe that, while he'll give you the goods in private, he is not willing to disclose "proprietary information" publicly. With due respect to him, unless the info is stated publicly (on the label) I cannot give Corby's products the benefit of the doubt. As far as I'm concerned, their whiskies are chill filtered, contain additives allowed by Canadian law, and where no age is provided, are barely over 3 years of age (& I still buy them, so who's the fool eh?).

Dissertation was a golden opportunity to buck Canadian whisky "tradition". They could have disclosed so much more than a marketing story (in this case more truthful than alot of the shyte on American whiskey labels) - they failed! The whisky may be great but a large number of consumers all over the world will continue to believe ALL Canadian whisky contains 9.09% that is not real whisky. While that perception persists, Canadian whisky will continue to reside on bottom shelves all over the world.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

You want the info on the label but you don't believe what you read on the label?

I'm one of those who finds that the backstory enhances the enjoyment of the dram. So I like having more, rather than less, information. But as long as the distillery provides it in a verifiable manner I'm not bothered. Tell me it's 12 on a website, that's fine. Disclosure on the webpage that none of the products are colored...I think a certain level of trust can be built. But it has to be reasonably discoverable.

Good example is Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015... NAS but on one YouTube video the blender discloses it's about 11 years. That's not quite good enough for me.

I'm least experienced with Canadian Whisky than with almost any other category of whisky. But with the help of @paddockjudge and @talexander I'm slowly learning to appreciate the nuances. I like this particular expression.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@65glenfarclas, eloquently stated and I agree with most of what you state; however you are painting the Canadian whisky category with one broad stroke while comparing to other categories.

Ultra-premium and super-premium brands do not pay the bills for Canadian distillers. The bottom line rules and the dollar is always king. Livermore is an employee of the corporation. He might be an ambassador and an agent, but he is not the singular voice of the corporation. He tows the company line, which is tied to the bottom line. I enjoy the one-on-one discussions with him, he is a wealth of information...so let up on him before he pulls away completely.

I am embracing this New Age of Canadian Whisky while it is possible to do so. The Canadian whisky industry will not disappear any time soon, but the ultra-premium category could easily be scaled back to where it was only 15 years ago because it does not drive the bottom line. The Walkerville facility is the largest volume spirits factory in North America. White spirits and brown mixers keep the balance sheet, for all of its occupants, in the black. Simply put, the cheap shit is where the profit is.

I'm perfectly content to let the rest of the world assign Canadian whisky to the bottom shelf, it will help to keep ultra-premium brands affordable and obtainable, however limited they may become.

We should sit down and discuss these points over a dram or two.

about one year ago 5Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

The Scotch whisky industry, as much as I love many of the products, is also leading the charge with ahem "creative" marketing backstories designed to make you forget or overlook the fact that they're overcharging for young spirit.

I'm indifferent to the fact that Angus McKilty used to play the bagpipes in the warehouse and that's why McKilty distillery dropped the 12 Year Old age statement in favour of the new "Bagpipe Reserve". The fact is that they are charging the consumer more money for younger product.

At least the back story on Dissertation is verifiable and true. And at only $65 CAD per bottle, I'm willing to take a chance on it. I'll be picking up a bottle next week.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

I do wish that Canadian distillers (particularly the giants) would disclose more information about their products, but I've never held it against them. And I don't think the scotch whisky industry, generally speaking, discloses any more than the Canadian industry does. Good whisky is good whisky - and I've had some Canadian whiskies (including those in @65glenfarclas's collection) that are better than many single cask, cask strength scotches.

about one year ago 5Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom commented

@65glenfarclas I didn't notice your reply until today. Sorry for the late response.

I agree with most of what you're saying regarding transparency and I'd be very happy to see a lot more information printed on whisky labels. I love this kind of minutiae when it comes to all my hobbies. In fact, I've recently started keeping a One Note database where I record a lot of these kinds of behind-the-scenes whisky knowledge that is sometimes kind of hard to come by. smirk

But I'm very well aware that those of us who care about this sort of thing is in the minority by a pretty large margin, and as such I can't say I really fault Corby or any other distiller for not including the information on the label. From their perspective I'm guessing they figure it can only hurt and not help. Corby is going to sell out all of their bottles of Dissertation with or without that info on the label, so why bother putting it on there? To make a few whisky nerds happy? That won't help keep the lights on.

As for the negative perception of Canadian whisky, I don't really care that much. Sure, I'm very happy to help educate those who hold some misconceptions about our whisky, and yeah it can sometimes be a little tiresome to see people drone on about neutral spirits, brown vodka, and all that other drivel. But as long as Canadian whisky is considered a second class whisky, it'll help keep prices low and products available on the shelf, and for that I am grateful.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Nelom I have to agree. I knew very little about good Canadian whisky before coming to Connosr. I'm still learning, but I hope our whisky doesn't get too popular. I'm hoping to get another bottle of Dissertation, but the Legacy is still very reasonably priced and so is Wiser's 18 Year Old, all things considered.

about one year ago 0

@Megawatt
Megawatt commented

When a whisky is this good, age statements are almost irrelevant. It is true that some portion of Dissertation may be as young as 3 years, but having tasted it, I would say that is highly unlikely. One could ask, "Then why not just put the age on the bottle?" The reason, by my logic, is that the age does not tell enough of a story. As someone else mentioned, a $65 12-year-old next to a $70 18 year old doesn't look right. And that's because it doesn't take into account things like casks used (virgin oak vs. re-re-refill), and grain content (corn vs. rye).

The real question: does seeing the words "non-chillfiltered" on the bottle make the whisky taste better? Does an age statement make your drink more enjoyable? If so, one could argue you are too easily influenced by marketing. Trust your senses over the print on the label or the shape of the bottle. An experienced drinker will know when he is tasting an inferior product.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

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