A night with J.P. Wiser's, Lot 40 & Pike Creek Canadian Whisky

Canada, eh? We’ll be the first to admit we know too little about the whisky of our home and native land, but it’s clear that Canadian whisky is riding the same surge of love that is hitting bourbon and American rye these days. We’re seeing more premium releases, and they’re exporting more and more around the world. 

Last Thursday (May 7th) The Wisemen were treated with a special Canadian Whisky tasting by the one and only Dave Mitton. Dave is the Global Ambassador for J.P. Wiser's, Lot 40 & Pike Creek Canadian Whisky. 

To start the night off, Dave introduced us to the much anticipated Lot 40 Rye Whisky. Right away, the nose suggests aromas of spiced vanilla, toffee, orange zest and smoke; on the palate it is warm with nuances of sweet cereal, butterscotch sundae, apple pie and nutmeg with a long and lingering finish. For American rye drinkers, it will have you questioning what a great rye should really taste like. It may not have the power of Thomas Handy, nor the age of the Sazerac 18, nor the warm embrace of the Van Winkle Family Reserve, but – to us – it’s every bit as intriguing and impressive as any of those great rye whisky's.

Up next was the fittingly named Wiser’s Legacy. This one definitely stands as a testament to the quality of early Canadian whisky, and to the pioneer distiller whose influence was fundamental in establishing the Canadian whisky style. And that style? Well to begin with, much of the whisky in Legacy is distilled in a traditional copper pot still from a mash rich in rye-grain. The white-oak barrels used to mature Legacy are toasted, not charred, creating a most amazing range of typical ‘rye’ spices. Legacy is the clear leader of the Wiser’s range, and despite the fact that it is a relatively recent release it has already begun to garner awards and accolades. It’s sweet, rich and very spicy with overt rye notes. Cinnamon and cloves, dark fruits, hot peppermint and citric zest. A spectacular whisky and a must-have for any collection. 

Leaving on a ‘Rye’ note, we proceeded to try a the 10-year-old Canadian, Pike Creek. Double distilled in small column copper stills, this hand-crafted whisky is then aged in white oak bourbon barrels and finished in vintage port. On the nose are aromas of caramel, clove, prune and spice; the palate is full bodied and warm, with flavours of spiced caramel, dried fruit and cereal grain. 

Our fourth tasting was a well-aged whisky that boasts pleasing aromas of oak, fresh cider and spice. As a blended Canadian whisky, Wiser’s 18 is a premium product that yields its best flavours when sipped neat. On the nose, you’ll take in an abundance of oak, florals and hints of fresh pine. The palate is plentiful and shares hints of baked apples, spice and rich caramel. 

Finally, our last whisky of the evening derives from the style of whisky crafted in 1857 by John Philip Wiser - Wiser’s Red Letter. Double distilled in continuous column stills, there’s little to no rye in the final blend of grains. It is then aged a minimum of 10 years in American bourbon barrels and finished for 150 days in virgin oak casks. This exclusive whisky has a higher strength of 45% alcohol and is non-chill filtered, creating a very rewarding, full-flavoured and authentic tasting experience. 

- Nick Harborne

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