Alumni Series

Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Larry Robinson Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Wiser's Alumni Larry Robinson.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
6 Years; Refill, re-charred, ex-bourbon, rum, and virgin French oak
Recipe
Blend of Corn and Rye Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Well this whisky is a bit nuts - 6 years old, matured in 6 casks - to commemorate Robinson’s 6 championships. I’ve never seen a whisky matured in both new oak, rum, and port casks - not to mention the others - so it is a bit unique. The corn is double distilled, with single-distilled rye.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: L19080EW1429

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Quite the mix on the nose here, clearly the result of a number of different barrels of maturation (no surprise there). Lots of dried fruit, wine notes, dark brown sugar, vanilla yoghurt, and some richer rye notes. It’s quite a busy nose, almost so much so that I nearly missed the very obvious spicy oak characteristics. The fruit notes remind me a bit of a drink that I used to drink growing up from various fruits boiled in water and then strained.

It’s interesting to me that rye seemingly plays a bigger role in this spirit, even with the 6 barrel types. I would have expected it to have less punch from the grain, in Wiser’s typical style when they use finishes. These releases really show off the diversity possible from a distillery like Wiser’s. It’s a younger and punchier use of finishes, which you don’t see often.

Rich spicy character too, but the oak is compensating for a spirit which is too young, I think. I like finish-driven whiskies less, so not as much up my alley – but lots find this style quite appealing. It reminds me of a lot of blended Scotch where there are so many different flavours batting about.

The most complex of the new set of releases, but actually my least favourite - I tend to favour grain focus over finishes, so it’s not a surprise.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). It’s toward the bottom end of the category – it’s very good and interesting, but it isn’t as integrated as I like.

Value: Average, based on $45.


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Paul Coffey Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Wiser%27s+Alumni+Paul+Coffey+1.jpg
ABV
48%
Aging
7 Years; Refill, Ex-Speyside, Ex-Bourbon, and Virgin Oak
Recipe
Blend of Corn and Rye Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Another whisky which incorporates a few “easter eggs” to celebrate NHL player Paul Coffey. It’s 7 yeras old as a nod to Coffey’s #7 jersey, with 48% nodding toward Coffey’s 48 goals in one season (the most ever for a defenseman).


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: L19084EW0945

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A drier character, with a nice grain character at the fore. Corn husks, light oak, vanilla, pear, and light mixed nuts. Slight bitterness on the nose, in a classic Canadian fashion. There is a nice dry oaky character which I quite enjoy in some lighter whiskies. The palate carried on in a similar fashion – even at 48%, this is a relatively light bodied whisky flavour-wise. We have sweet corn, dry oak, dried apricot, vanilla, burnt-sugar caramel, brown sugar, maple, and a flourish of baking spice at the end. The ABV really helps the finish which combines nice spice, oak, and in the middle a good grain character.

It’s the most grain-centric whisky in the new batch of releases, in my opinion. I liked the first three releases better, but all 6 are so different – different even than any of the other Wiser’s bottles currently available – that personal preference may well play a big role in what people prefer.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. I think it’s a good buy at $45, particularly against the whisky market as a whole.


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Darryl Sittler Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Wiser%27s+Alumni+Darryl+Sittler.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
10 Years; Refill and Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
Blend of Corn, Rye, and Malted Barley Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Another addition to the alumni series, whiskies produced to represent portions of NHL player’s games. The players themselves go to the blending lab at Hiram Walker, the home of Wiser’s, to take part in understanding the full blending process. The whisky is aged 10 years to celebrate Sittler’s famous 10 point night. Even the blend proportions tie back to that 6-goal and 4-assist game with 6 parts rye to 4 parts wheat. Wiser’s has been loading up consumers (Ontario at the least) with a lot of different releases, and they all have a different profile - I am quite impressed (and not surprised) at the diversity.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Alumni Series 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: L19081EW1106

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose is nicely balanced between lighter floral notes and some underlying grain of light to medium richness. There is dried fruit and lots of subtlety, especially with some water added. Prunes, dried apricot, orange peel, almond, orange peel, and dried bay leaves. The palate shows the corn at the centre, but has other grain notes – nuttiness, earthiness, and a grassy character. There is also dried apple, brown sugar, light bitterness, The finish is dry and spicy, with cacao, baking spices, tannins, and vanilla.

I like the information they present on the bottles - grains, age, and barrels. It’s nice as a consumer to know a bit of what you are buying, especially in Canada where there isn’t as much transparency.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $45


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Guy Lafleur 100% Corn Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Guy Lafleur.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
10 Years; Refill Casks, Ex-Rum, and First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
100% Corn
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

An 10 year old 100% corn whisky, double distilled in a column still - but finished (smartly) in a few casks - first fill ex-bourbon, rum casks, and ex-speyside malt casks. I say “smartly” since it adds quite a depth to some corn whisky. I might add, it’s very easy to drink!

Exclusive to Quebec.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Alumni Series

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

A complex nose for a light corn whisky – musty rum, orchard fruits, dried peaches, corn husks, maple – still very light. And very much a corn whisky on the nose – quite nice. The bourbon notes seem to grow with time – a fascinating interplay of finishes. Easy to drink! It’s actually incredibly moreish. The palate is nicely textured, with dry spices, sweet oak, and light corn nuances – like dried kernels. The rum comes out more in the finish, with light spices and a bit of saccharin. It’s somewhat in the style of typical Canadian whiskies, but it isn’t as spicy as some (to be expected, given that there is no rye in here!).

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. In the world of whisky, this is on the high end of what you can get for $45.


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Lanny McDonald Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lanny McDonald.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
9 Years; Refill, First-Fill Ex-Bourbon, Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
Blend of Corn, Rye, and Barley Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This whisky is a blend of column distilled rye (matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks), double distilled corn whisky (matured in refill casks), and pot distilled wheat (matured in new oak). It’s blended around the wheat grain, to honour the prairies where Lanny McDonald comes from.

Exclusive to Alberta.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Alumni Series

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Very nutty, and spicy – yet still we have nice dried and candied fruit. Loads of spices – hazelnut skins, old baking spices, and nutmeg. The wheat comes through with time, growing slightly with time. It has a very nice light floral note to it, also – lilac – our good old rye comes in. The palate is nicely rich with grain notes, and there is a light cream of wheat characteristic in the middle. I wouldn’t say that it is “wheat forward” but the wheat is definitely integrated into the whisky. The finish brings in some nice dried fruit, and the column still rye with all its baking spices and floral notes comes in at the end, with light tannins and more nuttiness. Very well put together- the spiciness and nuttiness is very Canadian in style, and I like that – it’s a bit dusty, and I’ll never complain about that!

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. $45 isn’t much for good whisky, but there are better whiskies for the price.


Review: Wendel Clark 100% Rye Canadian Whisky (J.P. Wiser's) by Jason Hambrey

Wendel Clark 2.jpg
ABV
41.6%
Aging
11 Years; Ex-Bourbon and Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
100% Rye (column + pot distilled)
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

An 11 year old combination of column-distilled 100% rye whisky, matured in ex-bourbon casks, and column and then pot distilled 100% rye whisky aged in virgin charred oak casks - sounds like a recipe for success! I particularly like the column distilled rye from Hiram Walker, so I’m always eager to see more of it. Bottled at 41.6% to honour the telephone code of 416, one of the two phone area codes for Toronto, where Wendel Clark comes from. A 100% rye whisky was chosen for this bottle to honour Clark’s intense playing style.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Alumni Series

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

A gorgeous nose, full of rich and deep rye notes. The ex-bourbon characteristic comes through on the nose, with apple seeds and a rich, corn-filled oakiness. Lilac, sunflower seeds, dried apricot, chocolate oranges, a light earthy molasses, banana, and sharp sweet oak all blend together brilliantly. The palate brings in rich dried fruit, spicy rye, more intense floral notes, and a rich grain character.

The lot no. 40 in comparison is oakier, more intense, and also a bit oiler/sour from its youth (in contrast, this wouldn’t be true of the cask strength lot no. 40). The differences are perhaps most notable on the finish, where an intense burst of flavour unfolds from the Lot no. 40 while the Wendell Clark is more measured. However, the biggest difference is the column still rye -  it brings in a broad grainy characteristic to the whisky which Lot no. 40 doesn’t have, while retaining all the intense rye notes – albeit in lesser quantity.

Terrific whisky for $45.

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

Value: Very high. Hard to find better whisky for the price.