When I review other country’s whisky, the methods and ingredients used are brought up. We know that the still used has an effect, with pot stills versus column stills leading to different flavours. We know that malt has an impact versus grain. We know the malting heat source (peat smoke versus diesel or even sheep dung or birch smoke) has an impact. And finally we know that the casks themselves, down to their wood source, previous use, size, and char/toast level.
Enter J.P. Wiser’s 23 Cask Strength, and all of that comes up.
I said it before when Canadian Club released a 40+ year old, and I’ll say it again: It’s nice that it’s old, but when it’s a column still single grain whisky (or a blend of grains), then it needs a lot of time in a cask to develop flavours.
This commemorates the whisky blenders 23rd year at the distillery, Dr. Don Livermore. And he is someone worth celebrating. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him one two occasions, and have him walk through his process, and he gets really nerdy and cool into it. This is a mixture of corn and rye distillate. So again we’re seeing corn, which down south we see uses mashbills, hyper aging in a hotter climate, and virgin oak to amp up the flavour. Knowing how Wiser’s does things, that’s not present here. However we’re also seeing rye, which Wiser’s prides themselves on keeping that flavour.
Also this is one of their first ever cask strength whisky blends. And cask strength goes a long way.
So suffice to say this has promise, but as someone who’s drank quite a bit Canadian whisky and encountered success and failures, I’m hedging my bets. So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: $150.25 CAD for the standard release (this one was a single cask sent for review purposes)
Bottled For: Toronto Whisky Society
Colour: 7.5Y 9/8
Nose: Perfume, vanilla/maple, mint, strawberry
Initial floral note, some vanilla notes, and that distinct Canadian maple note that I get on whiskies that really drives home the stereotypes. Let’s dress this up like a mountie and ignore all the terrible things that happened at residential schools and we’re all good, eh.
Water brings out some mint and strawberry notes, which are a nice change. I like what the rye has done here while the corn has strictly grounded it as a Canadian whisky.
Taste: Buttery caramel, cereal, buttered crust, cloves, mineral
Nice butter going on. Actually I’d say it’s more just different levels of butter and caramel playing around with some spice and mineral around the edges.
Finish: Lemon pepper, burn, caramel, orange, candy, cardamon
Big pepper/lemon note, some burn, and then more caramel, well developed orange, and candy. So nice.
Conclusion: Caramel-Bomb. Keeps hitting you with it, and has flavours on the outside.
So what have we determined? It’s a grain whisky. It does orange and other rye aspects well. It has a lot of butter. Is it “wow, I got something totally amazing that’s old” it’s your typical “hey after 20 years grain whisky has flavour like malted whisky”.
I commend them for making this cask strength, and those in the Society who tried both this and the standard say the standard release is nicer. So I’ll keep checking in, but for now I’d have to say this was a skip.
World Whisky review #399, Canada review #132, Whisky Network review #2005