Seeing how popular the Whisky Blending 101 classes are at the J.P. Wiser Brand Centre, drawing on the talents of Master Blender Dr. Don Livermore, the distillery has created the J.P. Wiser’s Blend Your Own Whisky Kit. Now you can play mixologist at home as you create your own signature blend of Canadian whisky!
Introduced for the holiday season, this unique kit gives whisky lovers a chance to create their own ‘master blend’. There are five mini 200ml bottles of different whiskies including Rye, Smoked Oakwood, Spiced Oakwood, Five-Year Old, and Wine Barrel. Each presents a different barrel quality and taste profile. The kit also includes a measuring beaker, a graduated cylinder and an empty 375 ml bottle in which to make your concoction, as well as Dr. Don’s Master Blending Guide. Dr. Don got his start as a microbiologist at the historic Hiram Walker & Sons Limited distillery before attaining his Ph.D. in Brewing and Distilling. He became the Master Distiller at J.P. Wiser’s in 2012.
“Whisky is all about the occasion, and the type of occasion should determine the type of whisky you will enjoy,” states Dr. Don. “If it is after dinner, you want a smooth sipping whisky you can enjoy neat, perhaps one that was aged in a wine barrel. A gathering or party may call for a rye in a cocktail like an Old Fashioned or mixed with cola or ginger ale.”
Here are the J.P. Wiser’s descriptions of the five whiskies presented in their mixology kit:
Five-year-old Double Distilled-a light, smooth whisky with dried fruits, English toffee and caramel and vanilla on the nose, and toasted grain, rich toffee, vanilla and subtle pepper on the palate. Its body is rounded and smooth, with a finish that is velvety and sweet.
Single Column Distilled Whisky-a bold whisky with a lingering spice finish. It has rye bread, dried berries and cherry on the nose, and a palate that is grainy with hints of green apple and pepper.
Double Distilled Wine Barrel Whisky-smooth and silky, this whisky has a nose of white plum, rich wood and hazelnut and displays dark ripe fruit, roasted nuts and cinnamon on the palate. The finish is lingering warmth.
Double Distilled Smoky Whisky-with hints of fresh cut wood, cinnamon, clove and roasted nuts on the palate, this sample is a rich and complex whisky. The finish is black tea, with walnut, clove, leather and pipe tobacco on the nose.
Double Distilled Spice Whisky-a rich, medium-bodied whisky with a finish of fresh herbs and spices. The nose offers vanilla, oregano, sage and subtle coffee, with sweet toffee, dried fruit, ginger and sour dough bread on the palate.
Dr. Don looks for balance in his whisky: “I like a whisky that when you drink it, you go through a story. You want sweetness up front; the intensity level is steady, and then down. You want to appreciate the flavour experience equally all the way through. Some whiskies have bite at front or burning sensation at the end; I’m shooting for balance.”
And now for the fun part, we get to play Master Mixologist. Three of us in the family tasted a sip of each rye neat to get an idea of the flavour, taking a big whiff of instant coffee between tastes which apparently helps cleanse the taste buds. Our favourites were the Spiced Oakwood which has a bit of spice, but too much, with a nice even finish; the Smoky Oakwood that has a pleasant hint of smoke, peaty residual and a buttery smooth finish and in third spot for us was the Wine Barrel Whisky which we described as having a smooth buttery flavour and a nice big, long-lasting finish which stays on the tongue. So, mixing our favourites, here is the new Lynch Family Rye Crest: two parts Smoky Oakwood, one part Spice Oakwood, one part Wine Barrel and a good pinch of Five-Year-Old Rye for balance. Our mixture had a good, strong start, a pleasant, smoky residual and a nice, sweet finish. It was so delicious we ended up making a second batch and will try other mixtures another night.
Each whisky is delicious on its own yet rises to another level when mixed with others in the kit. Playing mixologist was loads of fun and a great way to spend an evening with friends. J.P. Wiser’s Blend Your Own Whisky at Home kit is a truly unique gift idea, and the kit is well worth the $39.99 retail price, available online and at LCBO stores across Ontario. Just a friendly reminder to please drink responsibly and arrange a DD before indulging.
by Laurie Wallace-Lynch