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J.P Wiser's Red Letter

A Bunch Of Canucks - Part VII

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

6th May 2013


J.P Wiser's Red Letter
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Wiser's Red Letter was apparently an old recipe that was re-bottled in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the old Wiser's distillery in Prescott ON. It was a limited edition of only 6000 bottles, all of which have been long gone, so this is now impossible to find. I had the fortune of being given samples from two different bottles. One of them has been open for almost five months; the other has been open for 2 1/2 years. My notes below are on the more recently opened bottle.

The colour is pale amber, almost cloudy. The nose is beautiful: sourdough rye bread, pepper, cinnamon, cigar box, green banana, mint, grapefruit, vanilla pods. A little water brings out more rye notes. Fantastic.

The palate is a burst of toffee and vanilla, followed by a rye sharpness of grapefruit pith, lemon and lime. And salty with some heat! More wood notes emerge (more of that cigar box), and seems to get more and more oaky with time. Mouth-drying. Water adds a silkiness to the mouthfeel and reduces the saltiness. So much going on with this one, it is enormously complex while still being easy to drink - no mean feat.

The finish is quite balsamic with lingering underripe fruits (bananas, apples, pears) and quite a bit of hot pepper. This is a real pleasure to drink - very complex and almost challenging - but endlessly fascinating. An incredible whisky, one of the very top Canadians I've ever had - if not the top! If this interests you, Jim Murray went ballistic over this, scoring it a 95 and awarding it Canadian Whisky of the Year in his 2010 Bible. If you ever happen across it (I'm pretty sure I saw it on the shelf in a whisky bar in Vancouver once), or it comes up at auction - buy it.

And the sample that has oxidized longer? It seems less sharp than the newly opened sample - I'm going to guess that it has oxidized too far and has lost of its freshness, vitality and spiciness. It doesn't have the complexity of the more recently opened sample.

Well, this is the last of my "Bunch of Canucks" series...until Canada Day that is, when I open a couple of quite rare whiskies I still have on my shelf...

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RoganFox commented

Another great review in a good series of reviews. I would love to get my hands on this one and am already a big fan of the awesome Legacy. If you remember the name of the bar here in Vancouver let me know and I will be there in a flash.

10 years ago 0

talexander commented

Thanks @RoganFox - very kind words! A quick internet search jogged my memory - unless I'm confused (which is entirely possible), it was the Shebeen. But I could be wrong. Worth calling and checking. Otherwise, I would keep my eyes and ears open, and keep my eyes on auction sites like Bonhams to see if they ever show up (rare old Canadian whiskies sometimes show up at Bonham's NY auctions). And tonight I learned that Canadian whisky goes well with bratwurst & sauerkraut while watching hockey.

10 years ago 0

paddockjudge commented

Another very nice review. I'm glad you enjoyed the Red Letter. I've got a line on one more bottle of Red Letter - perhaps for July One.

10 years ago 0

65glenfarclas commented

A new version of the Red Letter has just hit store shelves in Ontario - this one stating it is "non-chillfiltered", but also at 45% abv.

Wonder if it is as good as the 150th anniversary version? Price at the LCBO is $115 (I think the original was closer to $150).

10 years ago 0

talexander commented

Yes, I'm very interested in trying it! Though I balk at the price tag...

10 years ago 0

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