This whisky has been around for a few years now, always staring at me, begging me to give it a chance. Being into hoppy beers, this bottle intrigued me, but I was never willing to give it the shelf space at home considering so many other options. Then the local LCBO made the decision for me! The opportunity finally came when the store manager had to reduce their amount of product tags and clear-out price many whiskies to make room for up-coming Christmas releases.
There was the Wiser's Hopped, sitting under a layer of well earned dust, but wearing a tag of just $22! Here in Ontario, there is no such thing as a 750ml bottle of whisky selling for under $26, so I was powerless at this point. So let's get to the product...Apparently Dr. Don Livermore was pretty excited to bring this product out. Opposed to other flavoured whiskies, this one does retain the subtleties of the original whisky. It's dry-hopped to avoid too much bitterness from overpowering those said flavours inherent to the whisky. I was pleasantly surprised by the character in the bottle. Upon first opening, it comes across as coarse, rough, and a little "skunky". But once the contents of the bottle become oxygenated (and it doesn't take more than a few days after opening) the whisky develops into a very nice Canadian standard, with a twist. On the nose, there is dark rich character, caramel, and milk chocolate, preceded and followed at both ends by subtle hops.
On the palate, entry is soft, with a creamy mouthfeel. The "dark ale" flavour is present but hard to pin-point. The flavour profile itself is hard to tease apart, you could say the flavours are well-integrated. Taste follows the nose as caramel is dominant, with hops coming back in the mid-late development. Then, comes the remarkable thing, at the onset of the finish, there is a well-defined taste of dark chocolate truffles...like the ones with cocoa powder on them. Very interesting for a Canadian whisky!
Also, as an aside for the cigar smokers, Wiser's Hopped pairs well with a maduro, that I can vouch for.
In conclusion, it may not be for every palate, but in my opinion, this offers way more complexity than most bottles offer for under $30 in Canada. And anytime you find something in that price range that grabs your attention the way this one does, it shouldn't have to wear that much dust or drop its pants in public (er...I mean, price!) before you bring it home!
@talexander or should I call you "The Gangster of Love?"
You make a number of good points re: the oddness of whisky scoring. Any score much under 75 is considered pretty much a failing grade. Ralfy won't even review anything he would score less than 80. Grading whisky is not the least bit like grading exams, but it is a value system that most of us who have been around for a while understand.
And, hey, nobody is going to heap scorn on you for mixing a good cocktail when the need arises.
@Victor If I could afford to drink single malts (even fairly inexpensive ones) I would. My every day drams are very inexpensive (but good, IMHO) and it's only an occasional splurge when I buy something over $50-100 or even more (unless it's an investment bottling). re: LCBO where they are good at pricing is the BTAC lottery, where if you win you pay the basic retail price. Some limited releases are quite fairly priced as well, including the Diageo Special Releases which are often hundreds of dollars less than in the UK and elsewhere.