Wiser’s Dissertation

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I’d like to thank Wiser’s for the sample of this whisky.

Wiser’s Dissertation is a new LCBO exclusive offering from Wiser’s. Recently there have been quite a few of these, and they’ve been quite nice to a group I am part of, the Toronto Whisky Society.

That said, as you can see, I have not always given them amazing reviews. I did enjoy the last 2 offerings, which are the Union 52 and the Last Barrels. I felt they were steps in the right direction for Canadian whisky.

But enough defending myself from strawmen. We’re here to review a whisky.

Why is this called dissertation? And why have so many Ph.D. students had a breakdown just reading it? Well let me explain.

Dr. Don Livermore is the Master Blender for J.P. Wiser’s. He is one of two Master Blenders in the word with a Ph.D in the craft. I could go on and on about him, as he’s become a legend in what he’s done, from using infrared sensors to mesure fermentation to later using them to measure the quality of a barrel.

His thesis is entitled “Quantification of oak wood extractives via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and subsequent calibration of near infrared reflectance to predict the Canadian whisky aging process”. For those of you like me, you’re lost as you did poorly in science because you sucked at it. A lot.

To summarize based on what I was told, he proved that Char number 2 was optimal out of the options tested for imparting wood extracts into Canadian whisky. That differs from what we see quite often, with Char number 4 being used. As well the barrel influence from oak seems to become a non-factor after ~3 years, with other reactions driving the evolution of flavor profile.

Thus Wiser’s Dissertation is a result of his studies to draw out the richest notes through the quality of the barrels.

So more is on the line when I try Wiser’s Dissertation than normal. Because I’m some autodidact shmuck, and if I don’t like this, then it’s scientifically proven I’m wrong. I think. Honestly I’m really, really poor at science.

Or rather he may be wrong, but again, I’m some guy on the internet, and he’s an internationally renowned whisky blender for North America’s largest distillery.

I’m proud to state that prior to trying this, I barely understood the science behind it (because I hadn’t looked it up), and now that people within the Toronto Whisky Society have explained it to me, I’m kinda understanding what’s happening. A little.

I hope.

Let’s see how the whisky fares, shall we? I can still taste things.

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Price: Not yet available

Region: Canada

Abv: 46.1%

Colour: 10YR 7/10

Nose: Butter, rye spice, oak, maple sap, melon, brown sugar, rich fresh cardamon, violets, algae

That’s quite the nose. It’s at this point I feel I need to explain something I’ve learned about reviewing bourbon (it relates).

When reviewing Bourbon, I note how strong, distinct, and well put together a specific flavour comes out in a whisky, in addition to the general enjoyment, combination, uniqueness, and complexity. I focus more on this in my bourbon reviews (of late) and focus more on complexity in other whiskies.

However here we have more of the rye nose. Each of the above flavours is distinct. It’s not a smooth whisky in that you obtain a mixture of flavours, instead each flavour is quite distinct, like that of a bourbon. It punches well above it’s weight class.

The nose is still distinctly Canadian, however there’s a big, fresh note of cardamon that I love in it that reminds me more of American ryes.

Taste: Lemon cheesecake, brown sugar, cloves, caramel, basil, orange peel

Again, big flavours. More complex now off the bat, this eventually has more of the orange aspect of a rye whisky. Lots of spice, balanced between cloves and basil.

If I had to dock it points (and I’m a reviewer, so therefore that’s what I do) I’d say it starts out more complex but doesn’t keep that going. I enjoy it, but it gives me that sense it’s going to be like a Thomas H. Handy and then doesn’t quite make it. Granted… that’s a pretty tall request, and you could (and should) make the argument I’m being unfair in comparing them, due to the exclusive nature of BTAC.

However it does continue to really punch out those flavours quite well.

Finish: Cola, peanut, coffee, wood, buttered bread, peanut

Finish is nice. Again, this feels more like a bourbon than a Canadian whisky, this time not dipping back into familiar notes (maple) to bring me back. And frankly that’s fine. I enjoy Bourbon.

I wish I had picked up more spice or orange or floral aspects at the finish. I enjoyed it: Who doesn’t enjoy bread (other than people who can’t have gluten)? Like I said, it’s nice. Is it impressive, like the rest? Not as much. I enjoyed it, but I wanted a little bit more.

Conclusion: An overall great dram that pushes what is currently on the market for Canadian whisky. I have heard from many Canadian whisky makers that they enjoy the freedom our lax laws give them. And while I am typically sad about some of the quality of Canadian whisky that has come out, this is again Wiser’s going in the right direction, with the right kind of product.

This is the kind of whisky I’d give an American whisky fan. This is technically correct, save for the finish, which is still good. It is a rye-forward dram. It is quite tasty. It does the complexity, well executed flavours correctly. And while it’s not as complex as some single malts, this is what I believe are the first steps in Canucks being able to hit that again.


World Whisky review #219, Canada review #75, Whisky Network review #1036

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