J.P. Wiser’s Master Distiller Dr. Don Livermore believes passionately in the quality of Canadian whiskey, its rich history of innovation and rightful claim to world leader status in the category.
And if I was a little dubious of all that when he first made the case to me a few years back, before our conversation was through, my skepticism was all but washed away by a tasting of what was then Livermore’s newest blend: Hiram Walker’s reissued Gooderham & Worts.
Livermore has been eloquently restating his case for Canadian quality with other excellent new blends ever since. Many have been issued in small batches under the J.P. Wiser’s tag, such as Last Barrels, the superlative Union 52, and – his latest – Dissertation.
If you failed to sample, purchase, or horde any of them, now’s the time to smarten up and pay attention. Because of the thirteen whiskies given the nod with a taste award at 2017 World’s Whiskies Awards in the UK, Canada had three category winners – and each one of them was stirred up by Dr. Livermore.
The Gooderham & Worts with which he first got my attention was anointed World’s Best in the Canadian Blended whiskey category. J.P. Wiser’s Hopped Whiskey won World’s Best in the Flavoured Whiskey category. And the new J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation.
The Limited Release is, in this case, a 10, 000 bottle run, allocated in its entirety to the LCBO (at $64.95 for 750 ml). It was named Dissertation because its author, Dr. Livermore, wrote his own dissertation on the relationship between whiskey, time and wood. “From 2004-2005 I was playing with a lot of infrared sensors, scanning the insides of casks, checking char levels,” Livermore recalls. “I could tell you in 30 seconds what a whisky aged in it would be like in 3 years.”
The whiskey that was the by-product of his research has been sitting around in 114 casks at the Hiram Walker distillery ever since. Or at least they were, until Livermore selected 78 of them for blending into his new offering, Dissertation. The fate of the other 36 casks is yet to be undetermined. I helpfully suggested a second bottling, labelled “Footnotes,” but now that I think about it, their marketing team will likely stumble on the unintended olfactory double-entendre.
Maybe “epilogue” has a better ring to it.