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J.P Wiser's Hopped

Average score from 4 reviews and 5 ratings 72

J.P Wiser's Hopped

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J.P Wiser's Hopped

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!

I tend to agree with @Nozinan and @Victor that price shouldn’t influence score. That said, I feel like discussing price separately has its merits. Alberta Premium Dark Horse is, to my taste, a 77-80 point whisky (depending on the batch). Decent, but not mind-blowing. I buy it often enough though, because it’s so inexpensive and a lot of people who visit me/drink with me like it. And my forthcoming review of Wild Turkey 101 might surprise some as well, because it is so inexpensive, yet I seem to have hit upon a particularly good bottle.

@OdysseusUnbound, you get so gouged on price in Canada that I can begin to understand your fixation on it. Truly, if I had always to have paid LCBO prices, I don't think that I/we would ever have gotten seriously into whisky. When we got heavily interested 8-10 years ago it seemed outrageous to spend as much as $ 20 on a bottle-- here, of course. That was an everyday domestic whiskey drinker's perspective, for sure, and not that of a collector or haute-breuvage connoisseur (a little Quebecois French there, just for you). All I can say is "God Bless 'Ya!" and I hope that you can continue to afford to buy the bottles of whisk(e)y. If I bought all or almost all of my whisky from the LCBO I think I'd currently own about 30 bottles instead of 300.


Nose: a surprising aroma of bitter oranges. Not a bad start, though quite hot with alcohol fumes. Water brings out an odd astringency.

Taste: light-bodied and rather flat until the bitter, hop infused finish kicks in. Some vague pine notes float around, but doesn't make much of an impression.

Finish: Bitter and short.

Balance: based on this tasting, this is a failed experiment and quite a poor whisky. The hops flavouring creates an interesting, though not necessarily desirable, aroma, but other than that this doesn't have much going for it. Maybe fans of really hoppy beer will find some appeal, but I will stick with the vastly superior Double Still Rye. Or, for that matter, the standard Deluxe blend.


Whisky has so many ties with brewing,- being, basically, distilled beer – that it’s really surprising that it’s taken so long for a major whisky producer to develop a hopped whisky. A number of small craft operation have added hops to their whisky – but this is the first large producer to put something out there.

Now the question is – is this whisky? Obviously, on the label, it is described as “Canadian Whisky”. from the Canadian Food and Drug Act B.02.020 the definition of Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky, or Rye Whisky:

“(a) shall

(b) may contain caramel and flavouring.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), no person shall make any claim with respect to the age of Canadian whisky, other than for the period during which the whisky has been held in small wood.

(3) Where Canadian whisky has been aged in small wood for a period of at least three years, any period not exceeding six months during which that whisky was held in other containers may be claimed as age.”

So, yes, this is Canadian whisky – it does contain flavouring, and meets all the other requirements – however, I would contest one point. This is an interesting whisky, for sure, but I don’t it meets the most ambiguous of criteria – that it possesses the aroma, taste, and character of Canadian whisky – a criteria I never really liked because of its subjectivity. As one who has tried many Canadian whiskies, this one certainly is part Canadian whisky, but also part something else. So, in my book, it’s not Canadian whisky – however, this doesn’t have any impact on whether you should try this or not.

Nose: This smells as much – perhaps more – like a dark, caramel driven, oak aged beer – than a whisky. However – it is a fascinating interplay. The clear pine notes from the hops play off the lighter and dryer pine notes in the whisky ,and the rich caramel and malt plays off the vanilla in the whisky. Caramel corn. It’s an interesting, and good, nose – but not that deep. 83%

Taste: Quite murky and muddy at first, followed by some chocolate and coffee before the beery oak takes over in the end. Beer like notes seem to come in at the beginning and end of the palate, where the whisky briefly runs the show in the middle with some light rye. It has the complexity of a dark aged beer, with whisky in the mix. 85%

Finish: The whisky takes a firm grip with rye, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The finish is a touch bitter lightly spicy,nutty, with fairly long, light spice…some of the beany notes as seen in Wiser’s small batch is also around strongly. The finish is long – the hops certainly take their part in this whisky. Not a sweet finish; this one is unique. 83%

Conclusion: Really, it’s one you gotta try. It’s very beer driven and feels more beer-like than whisky like – but it is a breed which feels distinctly like both of them. Worth a try, aIMG_1935nd decent – but not a complex and huge whisky by any means. However, it is clear – this is an offering which is unique; crafted for connoisseurs and explorers of whisky and cocktails- not a sweet and fake flavorless mixer. The hops are an interesting twist…I can only imagine how many dimensions this has potential to add to (or take from!) whisky. 85%

Weighting the nose 25%, the palate 35%, the finish 15%, and the intrigue 20%, the overall score is 84. Looks like I like this one a lot more than @talexander....

I've heard from most others less positive things about this whisky. For nothing else, intrigue value is high and I enjoyed it - and not a lot you have to burn through to try it out. I'll bring you a sample next week!

Hops are a very strong flavour influence. These hops-happy whiskies present that fact strongly.

The one I know best is Corsair's Rasputin. It is certianly interesting, but I am glad that it is my sister who paid for the bottle and not I.


Since whisky is distilled from a "beer"(properly known as wort), doesn't it make sense to try to make a beer-like whisky? Of course, the "beer" that is in the washback at the distillery is not usually commercially available as a bottled beer (notice I said usually). Which is too bad, as I've tasted some from the washbacks of Scotland and they taste a hell of a lot better than Molson Canadian or Coors Light!

Wiser's Hopped Whisky is...hopped. What does that mean? You got me - there's very little information on the bottle, and the product is not even mentioned on the website. I presume hops are added to the wort...or are they added to the mash? Or are they added in the barrel during maturation? It doesn't say. Or maybe there are no hops at all (since the ingredient list on this Frankenwhisky is just "Canadian whisky, natural flavour")

The colour is a dark caramel. On the nose - I don't even know what this is. It doesn't smell like whisky...burnt caramel (like, really burnt), heavy oak and stout. Corn syrup. Caramel apple. Cherrywood smoke (smokier with water). Cotton candy. There's a note I can't quite place; perhaps that is the hops (since I don't know what that smells like on its own)? And it doesn't smell much like a dark ale to me. None of these odours are particularly pleasant - imagine if you left your creme brûlée under the torch for about six minutes. If I had nosed this blind, I would have thought it was some weird spiced rum.

Less jarring on the palate - very sweet caramel, some indeterminate spice and more caramel apple. I actually get a fairground feeling when I drink this, somehow. Faint oak and some vanilla; but again, not much like dark ale. Water seems to make it even sweeter. More like their Spiced Vanilla but with very little vanilla.

The finish is rough, hoppy (I think) and has more dark ale characteristics than either the nose or palate. So here we have another flavoured Canadian whisky, but I'll say that it's not the worst I've had. Mix it with ginger ale and you might get a stronger beer-y ginger ale, who knows? Of course, it's proper place is in a boilermaker. Or down the drain.

Hops are plants part of which is used to make wort in most European ales, the plant imparts a bitter taste to the brew and is one of the few allowed ingredients in real ale. There has been a move away from many bitters (dark ales) since the introduction of lager to the UK possibly due to the more neutral palate and ease of transition from one Brewers fare to another while in the UK most recently there is a growing movement CAMRA the CAMpaign for Real Ale to promote smaller brewers and maintain the traditions of hopped beers/ meads and stouts. Hops are a bit of an acquired taste as are many real ales although the Brewers are producing more exotic flavours every year to attract the younger market, it still remains a trade mainly for the middle aged, elder person. The bitters from hops may explain the strong burnt element you are detecting on the whisky, while I do drink real ales tend to stay away from the most hoppy( if that word exists) due to the bitter element fine in smaller amounts but can become overpowering which may be the case when coming off the still.

A note on the bottle recommends this with ice, which is a slight improvement (though not much). For a dissenting 4 1/2 out of 5 star review, plus some more information on the bottling and on the use of hops in distilling, check out canadianwhisky.org/reviews/….

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