Review: J.P. Wiser's Dissertation Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

46.1% (molecular weight of ethanol)
11 Years; Virgin Oak
87% Rye, 13% Corn
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This whisky won one of 10 gold medalists at the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards, though, at the time, no one knew anything about it. The name, dissertation, is because this whisky has been made from 60 barrels used as part of Don Livermore's study of the aging of Canadian Whisky for his PhD Dissertation. He used about 113 barrels, but only a little over half went into this - he is holding on to the rest for a later release. They were filled in 2005, into new barrels with char levels of 2mm and 4mm. Some say this is 12 years old, but I know this was submitted for the Canadian Whisky awards in the fall of 2016 and, as far as I know, this sat for a few months at the LCBO waiting to be processed.

Rye composes 87% of the blend, distilled to between 70% and 80%, and 13% of the whisky is corn whisky distilled to a whopping 94%. A mix of distillation styles went into the blend - column distilled rye, column and then pot distilled rye, double distilled corn. No caramel added.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L17067 EW09:53

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Very enticing - lots of sharp rye, perfumed and loaded with cherry and floral notes – lilac, rose – anise, oak (very woody with time), roasted coriander seed, clove, purple grape, banana, nutty....nutty almost as an armagnac might be. It opens brilliantly, with vanilla, maple, and lots of toffee. The palate is full of cinnamon and dried sour cherry, with tremendous oak and rye influence. It starts sharp, spicy, and rye centred before terrific clove and vanilla-laden oak take over and lead into a finish full of custard, bourbon notes, sour cherry, dry wood, brown cardamom, and a touch of spicy greens including arugula. Oh, and lots of cinnamon. Comparatively, lot no. 40 is tame.

It is almost too sharp to have a lot of – but I love a bit of this coupled with some time to enjoy and explore. After one dram my senses feel sufficiently overloaded so that I want to reach for something else, but I do love it. It’s different than the other Wiser’s out there – but terrific, interesting, and similar enough that you know where it is coming from and who is behind it. Another (great) winner!

I debated for nearly a week about whether to give this a 90 or a 91, and finally went on a 91 because of its uniqueness. I don’t see many ryes presented this way – so intense and concentrated, with flavors bursting out all along similar lines. It doesn’t seem to have the linking grain or oak notes that disperse some of the different flavors, but rather you get them all in a burst that slowly unfolds.

Any whisky, for me, that gets above a 90 has to have me thinking about it for the next day, or the next few. This is one of those - the rye is so chiseled and so sharp, while also integrated with bright fruit, floral, and spice notes. Master Blender Livermore’s PhD is well earned.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. This is awesome whisky, well worth the price.