Friday, June 21, 2013

Wiser's 18 Review

Whisky Advocate's 2012 Canadian Whisky of the Year
Those of you that follow this blog or know me personally, know that I am always on the hunt for extra-aged rye whiskey. Taken together with my recent esteem for the Alberta-produced Jefferson's 10 year, it was with excitement that I learned of a US retailer who was selling the otherwise hard-to-get Wiser's 18 (also marketed as Wiser's Very Old).

I have been known to make disparaging remarks about Canadian whisky before, usually decrying their practice of adding up to 9.09% syrup/color/wine/maple syrup or whatever, as well as their even more rampant practice of blending perfectly good "flavoring whisky" (whence Jefferson's, Whistlepig and Masterson's) with very high proof "grain whiskey" that differs little from vodka.

I put all of this aside as I read the Advocate and other reviews. All touted huge amounts of oak and notable rye spices. As I forked over my $54, I was really looking forward to an available alternative to keep me from raiding my stash of older, straight rye whiskies.

This was some of the worst whisky money I have ever spent.

At first, I was going to write that I must just not understand Canadian whiskey, but I don't think that is fair to me. This is really overpriced, disappointing stuff, and I cannot understand how it is so well reviewed. When I first opened it, I got a whiff of oak, that was quickly gone and has not come back. Otherwise:

Nose: Vanilla, apples, a touch of butter and something bitter smelling that may be tired oak. Notable rubbing alcohol.
Palate: Vanilla, reused oak, a touch of cardboard, vodka and water.
Finish: Bitter and alcoholic. Despite being diluted to a pathetic 80 proof, it still has a very spirity burn that in no way suggests 18 years of aging. Otherwise mercifully brief.
Could this be a bad bottle? Do they counterfeit Wiser's? I'm not even sure what to do with it. I tried water and ice to no avail. I think I may just dump it to use what is really a very nice bottle. 70/100

I really like Canada and Canadians, and I also know that good whiskey can be made up north; this just really isn't it.


  1. My wife and I love this whiskey and are now on our third bottle. In truth, the third is notably different from the first two, but we've been very pleased on the whole. Vanilla, butterscotch, and the overall smoothness are our principal takes. Your negative review makes us laugh because of all the bourbons and whiskeys we've tried, Wiser's 18 is the only bottle we can return to repeatedly without the slightest disappointment.

    Naturally, mileage varies, as do palettes. I can't claim any expertise and must therefore resort to the old saw about art: "I knows art when I sees it." You can send your unwanted bottle our way.

    1. Maybe mine was bad. But you are right that palate's differ. Mine found a happier home with a friend already, or else I'd have happily sent it along. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I don't agree with your review

  3. Im a collector of anything whiskey -- price range 50 to 600.00 --- well over 150 bottles--- I share with friends ages 25 to my age of 61--- everyone picks cast 16 as one of their favorites--- I consider wiser 18 almost as good but sweeter--- I heard the Canadians dont export their best whiskeys--I hope this is not true--- it would be nice to see a cast strength Canadian whiskey not the boring 40%ers--- Im patchman from Illinois--- the non-expert

    1. To state you should dump this whiskey is an insult--- patchman

  4. I found my experience with Wiser's 18 to be very much in line with this review. The nose is overbearing with rubbing alcohol, the aftertaste bitter and burning. My friends love it in mixed drinks and I will keep my bottle around for that purpose only. I was very disappointed with my bottle, maybe there is something wrong with mine also, but nevertheless, I will never purchase again. A silver lining, however, is that a dram of this really made me appreciate my Jameson small batch and Dalmore 12 a whole lot more!

  5. I could not believe how bad this was. Undrinkable.