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Spirits Review: J.P. Wiser’s Rye Whisky

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Note: in keeping with our disclosure policy on reviews, the bottle reviewed herein was purchased using our own, hard earned, and very well spent … money.

A funny thing happened this past Sunday- with the Boss laid up in bed recovering (or at least making it through) from a cold I took my little man out for brunch (ok, the two guys grabbed pub grub at our local Irish “gastro-pub”) and while en route to get a few scoops of ice cream, I stopped in at the ole’ Cork & Bottle near home to grab some liquid love for my afternoon of frolicking mayhem. When perusing the shelf of brown spirits I came across a name I hadn’t seen before and thought, “What the hell!”  Read on but let’s just say … I’m going to be saying “what the hell” to this bottle of spirits for as long as I can source it.

Spirit Name: J.P. Wiser’s Rye Whisky   

Spirit Type: Blended Canadian (Rye) Whisky

Distillery:  Corby Spirits and Wine Limited (Corbyville, Ontario, Canada)

Purchased Price (paid by yours truly):  ~$19 (pre-NYC state and local taxes); purchased, upper east side, Manhattan

Appearance (in the glass, neat): Nice, rich semi-mahogany brown and gold.  Somewhat iridescent in the glass with ice and/or water.

Aroma (in the glass, neat): A touch of alcohol heat, semi-tannic that when “smelled” through the mouth, has nice smoky, charred wood aromas.

Somewhat sweeter profile on the nose when iced, yielding to nice grain and grassy notes.

Tasting notes (first round):

Truth be told, with the Boss sick and having been up for hours (and hours the night before on the town with friends), I couldn’t wait to crack the seal on this one and give it a taste.  My eagerness led me to start opposite the way I would normally handle such a situation (a tasting notes/review situation) by grabbing a large cubed ice cube, inserting into a chilled rocks glass and a stiff pour led to a sip … my first tasting notes follow.

“Maybe it is the ice, but there is little typical heat or fire on the palate.  Smooth, quite smooth, nicely smooth.”

“First flavors are rich, full of nice hints of toffee and caramel; wait … nice char, toasted wood flavors with the slightest hints of grain, cereal-like grains.”

“Mental image upon tasting — my first few sips of this made me feel like a titan of industry, sitting on rich leather backed chairs, in a wood paneled den of power and grace.”

I really, really enjoyed my first experience with this rye … surprisingly so.  So surprised was I that my first few sips made me think of another rye that I love (as a sipper) – Templeton Rye.

Our first tasting went so well, so well that our first thought was to post on it, that we decided to have another sitting.  Tasting notes for our second sitting, follow.

Tasting notes (second round):

Neat:  “Some heat, some traditional fire on the palate; after a bit of sipping neat you get the smoothness.  This is a really smooth character.”  “Neat (vs. chilled) the flavor profile is less sweet, less grain and much more wood, more … fire.”

A few dashes of chilled, filtered water added:  “Ah, maybe the sweet spot — the woody character is profound, not obtrusive but a great backbone to the overall flavor profile.”  “More grains, semi-cereal like with some coffee and sugar.”  “Nice.”

Poured over a large cubed, ice cube:  “Definitely when iced/chilled, this spirit reveals its true smoothness, smooth character.” “As with our first tasting, notes of toffee, and now I get the coffee … charred, coffee and oak.”  “Go get another bottle … “

Note: “spicy” … the old theSpeakista would have written such a phrase to describe this spirit but then I recalled my visceral dislike for using such an adjective when describing flavors in a brown spirit.  There is nothing about this drink that makes me think of anything in my spice cabinet.  If there was, I would say spicy and note which spices it reminds me of.  Just because something is bold, packs some heat and yields flavors on the palate that are varied isn’t a reason to get lazy and say something is “spicy.”  

Ok … homily is over.

In a drink: Truth be told, we struggled a bit with this portion of our review — with a spirit that we are totally loving on its own, how or why should we mess with it?  Well, plenty a great spirit has been mixed into a drink and so we set out to find (or create) a drink that would highlight the very best of the spirit.  In this case, an assertive flavor profile with a wonderfully smoothness on the palate that leads to a natural, beautiful sweetness.   An Old Fashioned of sorts could be nice.  Even better, a riff on a Sazerac?  Sounds good.

A little tinkering here and a little tinkering there and out popped our creation below; by no means ground breaking but a nice backdrop we think to show case this spirit.

Left turn at hello …
Recipe adapted by theSpeakista using the classic Sazerac as the temple and the J.P. Wiser’s Rye Whisky as the muse

•    2 oz J.P. Wiser’s Rye Whisky
•    1 barspoon Drambuie liqueur 
•    1 tsp. simple (1 to 1) syrup
•    several dashes of barrel aged and orange bitters  
Garnish: none
Glass: chilled rocks or Old Fashioned glass
Tools: mixing glass and tin, bar spoon and Hawthorne strainer

Assembly: fill serving glass with crushed ice and add several dashes of each type of bitters on top of the ice.  Reserve glass on the counter and allow to rest for a few minutes.  In the mixing glass add the remaining ingredients with ice and stir for several minutes until chilled.  Discard ice in the serving glass after swirling the ice/bitters for a few turns.  Strain the drink mixture into glass.  Sip and enjoy.

Wrap-up: What turned out to be a quick ad hoc detour to the local spirits store turned out to yield a great find for our cabinet of spirits.  This rye is bold but tamed; smooth yet not demure; sweet but sophisticatingly (yes, my new word) so.  If you have a chance to buy this do so; as of now it is relatively inexpensive and well worth it!

I only hope that all of you, in rushing out to buy this, don’t drive up the price for me.  That reminds me, where’s my wallet … we need to get much more of this while the getting is good.

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Dagreb April 15, 2014, 2:09 pm

    Fantastic! It’s funny to me that “J.P.” is included on the label. Anyway, you should come north sometime and experience the other bottlings from Wiser’s.
    Cheers!

  • KeithP April 21, 2014, 7:33 am

    Thanks — is there something more to the J.P., that I missed in my research?

  • AmandaC April 22, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Brilliant in a traditional Sazarac with glass splashed with 1797 Roquette absinthe.

  • KeithP April 26, 2014, 8:26 am

    Thanks Amanda, agree it is quite nice in a Saz

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