Wiser’s 18 Years Old
Review:Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky 96/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 4, 2010
I am going to admit right up front that this whisky has, for the last fifteen years or so, been one of my very favourites. This stretches well back in time before I was even considering a hobby as a spirits writer. My review, as a result, may at times be a little over zealous in its praise, but I guess I feel it is more honest that way, as I am truly passionate about the Wiser’s 18 Years Old Canadian Whisky. I have believed, ever since my first swallow fifteen years ago. that it is one of the very best whiskies that Canada has to offer.
In fact it was a bottle of the Wiser’s 18 Years Old which began my passion for collecting and writing about spirits. About five years ago, a bottle of this whisky which had been purchased in 1980, and then saved for about 25 years was opened for me when I was visiting my Brother-in Law. His sharing of a special whisky, led me to seek out a special whisky of my own that I could share with him. The whisky I found during that search was Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky. But it was during that search for a special whisky that I sampled and tasted my way into a passion for spirits that resulted in my blog. So it is really a pleasure to finally review the current version of the whisky which started it all, Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky.
In the Bottle: 5/5
Pictured to the right is the most recent bottling of Wiser’s 18 Years Old Whisky. The bottle which was forwarded to me to review by the National Brand Ambassador for Wiser’s Canada, Robert Carson, is bottle number 2030 of 3500. The square design and professional labeling is attractive and sits very nicely on my whisky shelf. A new feature for the whisky is the addition of a solid high density cork which completes the presentation. When I brought the bottle out at a recent gathering of friends, The impressive display resulted in everyone wanting to try just a dram or two.
In the Glass 9.5/10
A rich mahogany and copper coloured whisky greeted my eyes when I poured a glass of Wiser’s 18 into my glass. I tilted the glass and slowly turned it to impart a nice thick oily sheen upon the sides. Then I sat back and watched fat droopy droplets of whisky slide slowly back into the whisky. The initial nose was one of butterscotch and oak spices. But.. as I waited for a moment, the nose coalesced into a deep dark rich baking spice aroma with dark brown sugars, rich toffee, vanilla, and wisps of cinnamon. It is a wonderfully rich aroma. Behind the rich baking spices is a rich oak sap imparting a sturdy backdrop of oak wood and tannin. This is the type of whisky aroma which makes my mouth water in anticipation of what is coming next.
In the Mouth 57.5/60
Coming back to the Wiser’s 18 Years Old whisky was certainly a treat that I looked forward to. I have had little time since I began my blog to go return to of my personal favourites. It was also a little daunting to put the Wiser’s 18 through my rigorous review methodology. What if the new blend disappointed me? I should not have worried.
As I took my first sip, the oil from the whisky coated my mouth with a sweet toffee and a complex array of oak tannins. The whisky is very soft on the palate with a demerara (rum-like) sweetness that I found hard to resist. It has a full flavour with hints of treacle, waves of butterscotch and toffee, and oak spices which seem to have been grabbed from the barrel at just the right time. Vanilla wades in with hints of hot cinnamon making the complexity soar while maintaining a rigorous balance. If the whisky had been aged any more the resulting spirit may have began to turn woody; if it had been aged any less, the full bounty the oak has to offer may not have been realized.
For my palate the complexity and balance are perfect. This is a mouth-watering whisky with a fullness and richness which stands as tall as any spirit I have tasted.
In the Throat 14.5/15
The finish is a wave of spicy toffee that leaves me practically panting for another mouthful. My throat is left with a haunting trails of vanilla and a rum-like sweetness that delights me. The back of my palate feels the oak spices, and I can taste the butterscotch and toffee long after the glass is consumed.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
The last time I tried the Wiser’s 18, it was in the older bottle style, and I think Wiser’s has taken it up a notch in the new Limited Edition Release. The whisky is softer, fuller and more complete than I remember it. In fact I believe that this is the highest score I have given to a whisky on my blog so far. And the score is well deserved!
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
Suggested Cocktails and Recipes
I have developed a bit of a reputation as an anarchist when it comes to enjoying my whiskies and rums in cocktails and bar drinks even when they are premium spirits. In fact, I receive what can best be termed as ‘hate mail’ just about every week on my blog from persons who think that it is sacrilege to mix a fine spirit with anything but water or ice. If that is their preference, I will not criticize, but I will disagree. I believe in the sheer joy of experimentation and revel in the possibility of finding more than one way to enjoy myself with a fine whisky.
With that in mind, I have a few suggestions for the enjoyment of this particularly fine whisky. However, I will begin by suggesting that sipping Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky at room temperature in a rocks glass is a wonderful whisky experience. I found the addition of an ice-cube or two is also very pleasant. One of the real treats when drinking the Wiser’s 18 neat or on the rocks is the wonderful smell in the glass when you are finished. A bonanza of whisky aroma which lasts and lasts.
But as I indicated, I also like to mix even the most premium of spirits….
For my recipe suggestion., I decided to go in a classic direction. The Old Fashioned Cocktail is one of those which has stood the test of time and any whisky recipe which has its roots in The Old Fashioned is off to a great start. The variation that I constructed for Wiser’s 18 is called The Canadian Old Fashioned and it is made as follows:
The Canadian Old Fashioned
2 oz Wiser’s 18 Years Old
1/4 oz Curacao (I use Grand Curacao)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash Angostura Bitters
3 ice cubes
Build in a rocks glass on ice
Garnish with an orange peel zest
Looking at the Canadian Old Fashioned cocktail I couldn’t resist lengthening the drink into a more typical Canadian style. (We love our tall drinks in Canada) I call this new bar drink, The Long Tall Canadian.
2 oz Wiser’s 18
1/4 oz Grand Curacao
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 barspoon simple sugar
dash Angostura Bitters
3 ice cubes
Add the first five ingredients to rocks glass over ice
Stir and add the sparkling water
Garnish with an orange peel zest
I guess I should have used a tall Collins glass for the picture but I quite like the new set of Wiser’s glasses recently forwarded to me by the great folks at Wiser’s Canada.
And Remember, the Aim of my blog is not to help you drink more…It is to help you drink better!
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)