Review: J.P. Wiser's 23 Year Old Cask Strength Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Wisers 23 Year Old.jpg
23 Years
Double Distilled Corn and Single Column Distilled Rye Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

The previous two years, the headliner of the Northern Border Collection (or Rare Range) was the 35 year old J.P. Wiser’s whisky. Both releases were outstanding. However, consumers were asking for a higher ABV, so Corby’s has responded with this - a blend of 23 year old corn whisky with a splash of younger column distilled rye whisky at full blend proof of 128.6 (64.3%). A big reason that the blend was brought down from 35 to 23 years was related to the impact of ethyl acetate - a bright aroma which grows with age in a cask as alcohol oxidizes. As a whisky gets older, the aroma grows and can be quite intense at cask strength, resulting in cask strength airplane glue….This is not that.

Once again, Don Livermore & the team at Hiram Walker have blended an impressive old whisky which continues to push the boundaries of the profiles and types of top shelf Canadian whisky. I was a bit skeptical, since old, light corn whiskies usually become one dimensional at high ABV and offer incredible complexity at lower ABVs. But, as it turns out, Wiser’s knew what they were doing and I had no need for skepticism:

Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019 Northern Border Collection

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L19267 EW15:26

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Age, and lots of oak here (but definitely not over-oaked). There is a really nice floral, earthy and spicy note as well. To discover the complexity more fully, I suggest you add water at some point (try it, at least once – it opens up even down to 30%).

The nose is brilliant. Classic, good, old Canadian whisky. Light graininess, oak, pine, apple, beeswax, blueberry, vanilla, corn husks, pine, brown sugar – of all the old Canadian “mostly-corn” whiskies I’ve tried, this is the biggest-bodied on the nose. The palate follows the nose – but the light floral, spice, and grain character is more present. You still get a nice old, ethereal whisky but it’s different than the straight old Canadian corn whiskies in that it has a nice kick of complexity from the rye. The palate is quite hot, even when watered down to about 50%. The sweetness is perfect.

The finish is clean, tidy, and rising with some orange, but also oak, clove, oak, and a light citrus-zest-like bitterness. Excellent!

They did well to tone down the age given the cask strength nature of the offering. It doesn’t quite have the depth of the 35 year olds of the past two years, but it has a bigger body and still carries a massive amount of complexity along with it. I actually prefer this at cask strength compared to the other options – the palate and finish are just amazing. This is worth seeking out.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Yes…very, very good.

Value: Average, at $150. This means that it’s a decent buy even at this price, which tells you what I think of the whisky...

Curious about another opinion? Check out Mark Bylok’s review at