Review: Wiser's Legacy Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

The first time I had this whisky it was in a tasting bar, where I tasted some Ardbeg Corryvreckan – one of the biggest, most muscular peaty Scotches out there. I looked at Legacy and thought I might want to try it, but figured I wouldn’t have a chance at tasting anything after the Corryvreckan. However, I decided to try some, and was shocked to find that Wiser’s Legacy stood its ground with some brilliant rye and spice. The name “Legacy” is a tribute to Wiser’s founder, J.P. Wiser, and is based off one of his recipes.

The whisky is distilled in a pot still from a rye-rich mash, and matured in white oak barrels, which are toasted rather than charred. It also, notably, comes in at 45%, and was also one of the first Canadian whiskies to enter into a “super-premium” category, which was small at the time (2010) and now includes many more additions.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L1230311458 51SL190
  • Bottling Date: 2012

Nose: A nice big, bold and engaging nose. There’s caramel, and the nose is sweet and candied. It has lots of vanilla, honey, oak, toffee, ginger, unfiltered apple juice, cinnamon and butterscotch (it’s quite creamy!). There’s a corn backdrop, and some toasted oak develops as it sits and the vanilla notes get larger. There also are some notes of menthol in the nose. There’s even a bit of smoke in this one, but it’s quite light like match smoke. Banana also features quite heavily, and the nose is quite similar in that respect to that of Lot no. 40 – but I would say this features more complexity, louder vanilla and oak, and less banana.

Taste:  Smooth and sweet entry, with apples, caramel, bananas, and warming rye which lightly burn for some time in the mouth before a slow fade and spicy, lingering, dry finish. There’s maple, and some light orange as well. Very full bodied, and perhaps not the best balance but almost overpowering.  Sweet on the finish. The ginger and cinnamon feature quite nicely in this one. There’s also a bit of fragrant mint on the finish, which has the effect of lifting the whole experience slightly.

Finish: fantastic! Big, muscular, long. It’s quite dry, fruity, and oaky, and some vanilla and sweetness come out after some time. There is some black pepper and some fruity, candied rye as well.

Conclusion: This is one of my favourites. It has lots of complexity, and appealing flavour profile, depth, and breadth. This creamy, spicy, and fruity rye is one I thoroughly enjoy. It seems to me a bit more developed, bolder, and complex version of Lot no. 40 (also a fantastic whisky) with some softer flavours and less spice intensity.

Score: 93/100

Value: 98/100 (based on $50)

Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2015

Rich, buttery grain, vanilla, oily corn, brown sugar, stewed fruit, prunes, black tea, arugula and some nice vegetal rye blended into this.  Apple, spice, mint, and rye are blended on the palate quite nicely - very complex and delicious on the palate, I must say! 

Score: 91/100

Value: 94/100 (based on $50)

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L16081 EW08:18
  • Bottling Date: ~2016

What a nose! Bursting with rye – green banana, dill – caramel, oak, banana cream pie, spicy greens (like arugula and watercress), green peppercorns, dried apricot, prunes, rubber, and loads of clove. And the grain is just so rich, and the oak integration is perfect. And yes, lots of citrus zest too. Why I go through so many Lot 40s without multiple of these I don’t know – I do attest, it is a better whisky. The palate is full of rye at the centre, with creamy oak surrounding, ginger, spicy arugula, vanilla, clove, and buzzing white pepper. The finish is sweet and spicy, full of dried fruit and butterscotch notes, and pumperknickel. And this just goes down so easy! Dr. Don Livermore, you know your stuff…it’s not as big as the rye monsters, but it is so elegant and complex and brings out the rye notes in such a beautiful, and perhaps more accessible, fashion.

Score: 92/100

Value: 97/100 (based on $50)