This is an abridged version of a review from my blog
When I read that Don Livermore, Master Distiller at J.P. Wiser's had a Ph.D. in Distilling, (likely on this very site), I had to investigate further. I had always thought of Wiser's as a mixing whisky and hadn't given their premium offerings a second glance. What I found changed the way I think about Canadian Whisky.
For those who don't know, this whisky is (according to various internet reports) 12 years old, 87% rye, 13% corn, is unchilfiltered, not coloured with E150A and bottled at 46.1% ABV. Pretty good start.
Nose (undiluted): very rye forward, toasted oak, maple sugar, some baking spices, mint in the background
Palate (undiluted): surprisingly smooth arrival, medium bodied, rye spice, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, red apples
Finish: medium length, more rye spice, vanilla, some charred oakiness lingering
Adding water to Dissertation allowed the spices, particularly cloves, to come through a bit more, but the rye and oak were still quite present. In addition to the toasted oak, water brings a freshly-cut oak note to the nose and some butteriness to the mouthfeel. The rye is very pronounced in this whisky and that's a great thing. If you associate rye flavour with inexpensive mixer whiskies (e.g. Wiser's Special Blend, Canadian Club) like I used to, Dissertation can show you just how good rye whisky can be.
I was very pleasantly surprised with this whisky. It even inspired me to buy a bottle of Lot 40, just to try some other Canadian whiskies of high repute.
Scoring is always tough for me. I'm a teacher by trade, so I tend to want to grade strictly but fairly. Also, I don't want to think about how I scored other whiskies, be they bourbon or single malt scotches, when scoring this one. Comparing bourbon to scotch to Canadian whisky to Japanese whisky (which I haven't tried yet) seems like a futile endeavour. I also tried to distinguish between my enjoyment of the whisky and my impression of the overall quality of the product. They are often close, but not always the same. My enjoyment score would be 89/100 and I feel like the quality score would be 92/100. Obviously, some will find my scoring too high, others too low. So be it.