NHL

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.


J.P. Wiser's Alumni Series by Jason Hambrey

Alumni Series.jpg

It is remarkable to my mind (and delightful to my heart): the number of special releases that J.P. Wiser’s is releasing. They are all fantastic, and have perhaps done the best of any brand showcasing the diversity of flavour which comes from Canadian whisky production with the diverse mix of grains, stills, and aging techniques. Most big Canadian distilleries make a number of very different whiskies, from different grains and distilled and aged differently to create vastly different flavour profiles. But, we rarely get to see them. J.P. Wiser’s, however, has opened the floodgates! The brand has been very busy:

  • 2016: Lots of releases: J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels; J.P. Wiser’s Double Still Rye; Pike Creek Rum Finish released to replace the Port Finish (a good move).

  • 2017: Even more releases: J.P. Wiser’s 15 YO; J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation; J.P. Wiser’s Union 52; J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels; J.P. Wiser’s Canada 150; J.P. Wiser’s Double Still Rye re-branded as Triple Barrel; (sadly, we also lost J.P. Wiser’s Small Batch and the amazing Wiser’s Legacy…); Gooderham & Worts Little Trinity 17 YO; Pike Creek 21 YO Speyside finish; Lot no. 40 Cask Strength 12 YO; and J.P. Wiser’s 35 YO. (That’s a busy year!!)

  • 2018: More special releases: the Alumni series (3 whiskies); J.P. Wiser’s 2018 Commemorative Bottling; Wiser’s Seasoned Oak (awesome); Pike Creek 21 YO Three Oak; Gooderham & Worts Eleven Souls; Lot no. 40 Cask Strength 11 YO; and J.P. Wiser’s 35 YO again. They also released J.P. Wiser’s old fashioned, which is an easy route to a decent old fashioned.

That’s a busy few years - what other major whisky brand is doing anything like it?! Unquestionably, J.P. Wiser’s has jumped to the forefront of the connoisseur market for Canadian whisky. While other major brands are releasing 1-2 special bottlings a year, Wiser’s is flooding the market with multiple special releases, and - what is more - they are all selling out.

Now to the alumni series. This is something different for them: it is a partnership with the NHL almumni association (NHLAA) with some of the profits directed towards the NHLAA. All the whiskies have been selected to reflect a certain player style - J.P. Wiser’s has chosen to tell a story with a unique take on their whiskies, rather than just recycle their current brands. The first set of releases - bottles honouring Wendel Clark, Guy Lafleur, and Lanny McDonald - were based on the playing styles of each player. Wendel Clark’s whisky was chosen to be a big, 100% rye whisky to reflect the intensity of Clark’s playing style. Lafleur’s whisky is an easy corn whisky, finished in three casks, to reflect his smooth style. And Lanny McDonald’s whisky is centred around wheat whisky, reminiscent of the grain-growing-prairies where McDonald grew up.

On another note, whisky brands partnering with other companies or charities hoping to do good is worth championing. We’ve seen it before with Parker’s Heritage collection and even the Town Collection from Collingwood last year. It’s great to see J.P. Wiser’s doing the same.

I love the diversity Canadian whisky brings, and from a personal perspective, I’ll buy as many Wiser special releases as we get. Again, to my palate’s delight, the alumni series isn’t over - with more Wiser’s special releases coming in 2019.

Reviews are coming, of the first wave, in the upcoming days.