NHL

Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Dave Keon Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Dave Keon 1.jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
14 Years; Refill, Ex-Bourbon and Virgin Oak, and Speyside Malt Casks
Recipe
Blend of Corn, rye, and malt whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This whisky - another of the alumni series - sets out to honour Dave Keon - aged 14 years in honour of his jerset number 14. Bottled at 45%, also, as a nod to Keon’s 45-point first season. It’s a mix of single column distilled rye, column and pot-distilled rye, single column distilled malt, and double distilled corn. And, it’s aged in 4 different casks (one for each of Keon’s cup wins)- reused Canadian whisky casks, ex-bourbon casks, new white oak casks, and Speyside malt casks. It will launch in Ontario as early as next month, but release date is still not certain. As with the other alumni series releases, 50% of the profits go to support hockey initiatives and the retired player community.

So, how does it taste?…


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Now I really like this! What a nice nose – rich wood notes, dried fruit, spices, old mossy oak (a bit bourbon-y), lilacs, roses, vanilla, clove, and dried apricot. The palate is sumptuous. A nice, thick body with a really nice set of flavours – black tea, lilac, molasses, dried apricot, prunes, red currants, rose, anise – it is just delicious! The feel of the palate, too, is great – nicely structured with tingling spices and drying tannins. The finish has lots of dried fruit, oak, rose, floral rye, hazelnut oil, and apple seeds.

This is a really nice blend. Just terrific. My second favourite of the Alumni series so far – behind Clark – but this is just a really nice whisky and it sits at a great price. Go try some, when it comes around.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. Great stuff for $45!


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Yvan Cournoyer Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Yvan Cournoyer.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years; Refill, Ex-Bourbon and Virgin Oak Casks
Recipe
Blend of Corn, rye, and malt whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This has two types of rye whisky in it - a single column distilled rye and a column and then pot-distilled rye whisky (i.e., Lot no. 40), alongside double distilled corn and column distilled malt. It was aged for 12 years - in honour of Cournoyer’s jersey number 12. It’s only bottled at 40% unlike many of the alumni series which come in a bit higher - but this is still a very nice whisky and, after reviewing it - probably my third favourite of the alumni releases behind Wendel Clark and Dave Keon. This is launching in Ontario and Quebec sometime this winter. As with all alumni series whiskies, 50% of the profits are going towards hockey initiatives and the support of retired players.

Interestingly, this recipe is inspired by the 1972 recipe for Carleton Tower, an old Hiram Walker blend. Why? Again, a nod back to Cournoyer - who was playing at the peak of his powers at the time for Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose has a really nice mix of rich rye notes and corn notes – dried corn, prune, dried flowers, dried apricot, lilac, new oak, and pine. It develops as it sits – particularly the floral notes, with rosebushes coming through quite nicely.  The palate has sweet corn, rye notes, pine, orange, and some mixed grain porridge. It has a really nice balance of flavour – fatty corn, floral rye, dried fruit notes, and spices. It’s just very enjoyable. The finish has some baking spices, mixed citrus pith, dried fruit, lilac, and orange. Very nice – probably my third favourite of the alumni releases.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. Great stuff for $45.


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Mark Messier Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Mark Messier 2.jpg
ABV
47%
Aging
11 Years; Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Speyside Scotch Casks
Recipe
Blend of Corn, rye, and malt whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Here we have yet another in Wiser’s Alumni series - this time it is a blend of single column distilled rye and malt with double distilled corn. It’s aged 11 years in honour of Messier’s number 11 jersey and bottled at 94 proof, in honour of Messier winning the cup in ‘94. This is now the third release of three of the alumni series.

This is launching in Ontario sometime this winter, as early as December. As with all alumni series whiskies, 50% of the profits are going towards hockey initiatives and the support of retired players.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The whisky has a nice nose – indeed, malt notes come through at the edges! Quite pleasant. But, beyond that – a nice corn core with floral rye notes playing into the nose nicely. There are nice bourbon notes, green grape, baking spices, new charred oak, and dried corn. It really opens up with added water. The palate brings in some more charred oak flavours, alongside a light and floral fruitiness (green grape, elderflower), orange peel, and some nice spicy, fruity rye. It has just a touch of bitterness and tannin which adds some nice structure to the whisky. The finish has some bean sprouts, baking spices, molasses, and clove.

Stylistically, it is very much a Wiser’s whisky. I actually like this one with a drop or two of water – it opens up the Speyside notes on the nose and tames the palate a bit.

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

Value: High. Good stuff for $45.


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.