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Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release (2010)

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.

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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.

Wiser’s 18 Straight Up

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

Enjoy!

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.

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

sparkling water

Add the first five ingredients to rocks glass over ice
Stir and add the sparkling water
Garnish with an orange peel zest

Enjoy!

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)

16 Responses to “Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release (2010)”

  1. tig said

    I just bought a bottle based on your review. Just sipping some neat as I type. Very nice all round and your review is very accurate in my opinion. Bottle 842 0f 3500. I think that I prefer the 18s taste profile more than the alberta 30. I will have to try them side by side some time. What I find most interesting is that I still have a hankering for the unique flavour of Last Mountain Rye even while sipping this exceptional whiskey.

    • My Sample Bottle of the Last Mountain Rye disappeared all too fast.

      • tig said

        They definitely have something unique in Lumsden. I finished my Last mountain Rye last week and decided that I needed to savour some of my other $40 plus premium spirits in my cabinet as they were being ignored.
        I didn’t even make it a week without giving into my craving for its unique flavour. The new bottle is from a later batch and is as good maybe even better. It is very enjoyable to nose and sip an ounce or two savouring each sip. The butterscotch flavour with a rye burn is so enjoyable. It it so great served neat that I went through the entire first bottle without adding ice or mix at all (this is a first for rye) It is spoiling everything else for me … anyone want to buy an unopened Alberta 30 :-)

  2. TMNT said

    This whisky is very smooth. That being said that’s really about all this whisky has going for it. The flavours are nice but it its hard to tell because they are so weak and they don’t linger either. This is a nice whisky for people who usually don’t like whiskey because the flavouring is so unbelievably mild. In conclusion I did not dislike this whisky whatsoever but its so uncomprehendingly weak that I really didn’t get that much enjoyment out of it either. The Alberta Premium 30 year old is 3 times better and $20 cheaper.

    • I find myself in disagreement with you with respect to the Wiser’s 18.I find the flavour very robust with a lot of subtle nuances which I really enjoy (I guess I am finding things within the whisky that you do not). I do agree though that the Alberta Premium 30 is a fantastic Whisky, and in a side by side sampling with the highly respected Highland park 25 Year old, I preferred by a slight margin the Alberta Premium 30.

      Cheers TMNT and let’s hope we continue to agree a little and disagree a little as that keeps things interesting!

  3. Tim N said

    Had my first go at this whisky last Friday in a line up of 5 single malt scotches and Wiser’s small batch – the 18yr stood up very well. The aroma coming off the glass was spicy, creamy, and cedar like. The palate was very smooth although less complex than I found the nose to be. I immediately placed this whisky on the shelf next to Danfield’s 21 and Alberta Premium 25. A top notch rye! I must sit down for a second tasting this week.

  4. ZM said

    I live somewhat close to the McCormick Distillary in Westin, MO Their adjoining store is the only place I can find Wiser’s in the Midwest.

    They have Wisers DeLuxe, Wisers DeLuxe 10 year, and Wiser’s Very Old (which the bottling looks the same as this 18 y.o.).

    Have you tried the Wisers DeLuxe 10? if so, how is it?

    What is a better Value – Wisers’ 10 for $25 or Wisers’ 18 for $45

    • I like both products, but my preference would be to spend the extra cash and buy the 18 year Old!

      cheers!

    • Doug Ford said

      ZM—the northern part of the Midwest is pretty well supplied with Wiser’s. If you make it to Minneapolis sometime, prepare to stock up!

      And Chip, I agree, a glass of Wiser’s 18 is time well spent. Maybe two glasses, one for a friend, is time even better spent…

  5. Heather said

    Hi Chip,

    How would you compare Wisers Legacy to the Wisers 18yo?
    My dad has been a whisky lover since I was kid, and he is a faithful ‘wisers guy’ (he says crown is too smooth). I really want to buy him a bottle of wisers for christmas for him to enjoy this holiday season and it would be nice to try something different.. would you suggest Wisers Legacy or 18yo?

  6. Drew said

    This is my second favourite Canadian Whisky to date. The Canadian Club 20 year is the only one I find more appealing, yet similar. However, there is a 30 year CC I have not yet tried.

  7. Doug said

    I don’t have broad experience with Canadian whiskies, and had found them very light, and not so much to my liking; when I sampled Wiser’s 18 a couple weeks ago, I was surprised at its richness and complexity. I agree that it is a very pleasant sipping whisky, neat. It was eye-opening, in fact. I can tell that I’m going to have to get better educated about the category; could get expensive.

    • Hi Doug

      I perused over to your blog site and had a look. Nice. You seem (by the archives at least) to have begun roughly the same time as me. That’s cool.

      I hope you enjoy your trek into Canadian whisky!

      Kind Regards
      Chip

  8. André said

    Great review of the Wiser’s lineup Chip! You’re convincing me to jump on a spirit I’ve never had too much appreciation for (whiskey in general). What would you recommend for someone who has a strict love for rum? I was thinking of giving the Wiser’s Small Batch a try, based on your review.

    Thanks again!

    • I think the Wiser’s Small Batch is an excellent starting point for the rum lover. It has a little of the demerara in the flavour profile, and has that full round flavour that is kind of rum-like in its delivery.

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