Friday, August 11, 2017

Into the light once more.... Lassie writes about Wiser's Dissertation

A little bit of honesty here: With every passing day as I stared at the screen that stated I hadn't blogged since March 3rd 2017 I grew more and more indifferent about ever doing it again. Day after day - spending time flipping through twitter then deleting the mindless amounts of PR emails that I receive about NEW and INNOVATIVE spirits coming to market. I attempted at times to read other blogs or websites but many simply seem to regurgitate the PR emails I deleted the day before.
Another round of: "Meh... Why do I bother, nobody reads these anymore anyway... or worse - I've really got nothing to say or add to the #whiskyfabric anymore. That last one likely hit me the hardest. Do people even care about stories, real reviews or crazy whisky adventures?" The following week I would read twitter, delete more emails, read a blog, sigh and then walk away from the computer yet once more.  Meh... Meh... Meh... Repeat... Meh...

Over the last five months I've travelled, done lots of sailing, had some fabulous and mind blowing adventures, drank some great whiskies, spent time with friends and family. These filled most of the nooks and crannies of my life. Writing, however, was an itch that wasn't getting scratched at all. Something needed to kick start my ass again but I wasn't sure what that was. In late May I received a package while I was at work. Graham, my wonderful partner in most of my crimes, sent me a message on his lunch hour about it so I casually said open it and let me know what it is. He wrote back: "Holy shit Jo!" Ok, so now he has my attention. I stare at my phone waiting for another message. Nothing...  "Errr, yes?" I write quickly. Nothing...  "Hello?" I type, now with a bit of impatience and annoyance. Nothing like getting click bait messages from your husband :) Then the photo comes in: A copy of Don Livermore's dissertation: "Quantification of oak wood extractives via gas chromatography - mass spectrometry and subsequent calibration of near infrared reflectance to predict the Canadian whisky aging process". Now, if you are a regular reader to this blog (poor attempt lately my apologies) or a new one who doesn't know who or what that means to me - Dr. Don Livermore is the brilliant and creative master blender at the Hiram Walker & Sons distillery in Windsor Ontario Canada. 

I know the adrenaline shot through my entire body when my brain registered what I was looking at and unless you are a full out whisky or chemistry geek like myself you may simply giggle at the thought of someone getting an adrenaline headache, her heart skipping a few beats and maybe suffering from a bit of hyperventilation as a result of seeing a photo of a paper about infrared sensors, barrel charring levels and whisky. Let me elaborate just a little (indulge me here...) = This is a PhD paper that demonstrates how the quality of a barrel can be determined by using infrared technology.

The other great thing that came of his dissertation was 114 barrels of whisky. A bi-product of the research and experiment really but also thankfully product that might be quite interesting to release on the market so Don chose 78 of them, blended the whisky which ended up creating Wiser's Dissertation. Released to the LCBO in Ontario as an exclusive bottling, 10,000 bottles hit the stores right before Father's Day. Cost $64.95.

I've really become a fan of Don's and many (MANY) of the whiskies he has created since taking the helm of Master Blender in 2012. I had a copy of the dissertation now I had to try the whisky. May 30th I stepped on a plane, hopped the Go train and headed directly to a liquor store in downtown Toronto where I purchased 2 bottles. (It's important to do a lot of trials - spoken like a true chemistry nerd!) I didn't make it back home to Saint John until June 21st but a few days later I quietly popped the cork while sitting on the boat. It was nice to simply enjoy it, no note book, no pictures for social media. Just me, the sunset and the whisky. It was glorious. I loved everything about it as many of you know I often say sometimes the whisky is simply the backdrop to the memory that is created. Over the course of the next 5-6 weeks anytime I opened my copy of the Dissertation, I also poured one (always made me smile when I did this!). I can't even begin to explain the satisfaction I had knowing that I was reading about Don's work and sipping the whisky that allowed him to successfully acquire his PhD.

Monday August 7th, my daughter Erica's birthday. She turned 27. I can't get a hold of her as she's off having an adventure (apple doesn't fall too far from this tree) but a great reason to pour myself a dram! Except this time, I'm drawn to my notebook. I open the page and the last notes taken on March 4th stare back at me. Halifax, whisky show - Bowmore Vault 1st Edition. Scribbles, my friend Celinda's name with a big happy face - Nice, salted with butterscotch sweet notes. I flip back a few pages, many more descriptors - most almost looking foreign to me now. Scented potpourri soaked cedar shavings (Won't mention the name of that whisky but good God it was horrible!) Yeah, I miss doing this. Maybe I needed the time off or away from writing so that I could appreciate how much I do love whisky?

Here goes, let's see how rusted my olfactory memory and taste buds really are? I have to say I was almost a bit nervous and scared to do this whisky a disfavour but like every other muscle that has memory, the nose did not fail me. Bicycle-schmicycle!?

Wiser's Dissertation Blended Canadian Whisky, 46.1% ABV

Nose: Explosive rye profile. Spicy, rich, lots of early fall night orchard smells like apples still fresh on the tree, grass that was hot all day but cooling in the autumn air, wild flowers like purple clover and evening primrose. The nose is big and beautiful.

Palate: Just a hint of fresh oak, pink grapefruit cheesecake with a caramel sauce (not kidding). Super creamy but mildly sweet in nature. Quite complex.
Finish: Smooth, not overly hot more like spicy like cinnamon heart candies. Nice but a bit short especially compared to most of the other whiskies I love from Corby's.

Overall I think Don hit it out of the park yet again with this one. I put it directly behind Last Barrels which I loved immensely in 2016. Review written, blog done = Lassie happy. With only about 25% of the stock left, when this one is gone, it's gone for good so if you are in Ontario or know someone who lives there, I recommend you get a bottle or maybe two.

Just three little things to add:

a. 46.1% is what Dr. Don decided to bottle this at, which also (not by coincidence) is the molecular weight of ethanol (CH3CH2OH) -> Squeals with geeky excitement.

b.  Maybe you noticed that I stated Dr. Livermore used 78 of his PhD research barrels to make Dissertation a reality. I hope that leaves you wondering, just like me - what will happen to the remaining 36? Can't wait to see what creative idea he comes up with for those.

and c... BIG thanks to fellow Canadian whisky judge, chosen brother and very good friend AndrĂ© Girard, for being the kick in the pants I needed to finish this one and reminding me about the one thing that brings friends, happiness, adventures and great memories into my life: Whisky.

It was quite refreshing writing a blog for the fun of it. It's nice to be back and I'll do my best to keep writing about what this Lassie does, thinks and experiences after all why should I keep all the crazy and weird things that I get to do locked up in my head ;)

Cheers from Saint John Canada wherever you may be.



  1. Well done! Good to have you back. We missed your opinions.

    1. Thanks so much! There's an old quote about opinions that is very inappropriate but funny... :)

  2. Again...Love your writing. Great read.

    1. Thank you Sam! You always make me smile and allow me to appreciate the people from #whiskyfabric regularly. Cheers!