J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Dave Keon 14 Year Old

Corby came out late last year with a second batch of the “2019-2020 edition” of the J.P. Wiser’s NHL Alumni series of whiskies. The first batch of the 2019-2020 edition featured whiskies named after Larry Robinson, Darryl Sittler, and Paul Coffey. These followed on from the initial 2018-19 edition, which featured Guy Lafleur, Wendel Clark, and Lanny McDonald

This second batch is the “Captains series,” featuring whiskies named after Captains of well-known NHL franchises in Canada. The whiskies were all designed by Dr Don Livermore, Master Blender of Corby (who owns J.P. Wiser’s). All whiskies featured age statements and more distilling and barreling details than typically found in Canadian whiskies (especially at this price point). As before, the profits from the series are shared evenly with NHL Alumni Association, to help support former players in need.

At this time (July 2020), all of the second batch 2019-2020 edition whiskies are available from J.P. Wiser’s website (for delivery in Ontario only). All bottles in this batch currently retail for ~$45 CAD in most jurisdictions.

Let’s check out the specific composition of this Dave Keon whisky:

Grains: a blend of corn, rye, and malted barley
Age: 14 years old
ABV: 45%
Distilling: single column distilled rye, column and pot-distilled rye, single column distilled malt, and double-distilled corn.
Oak: a mix of used Canadian barrels, ex-Bourbon, Virgin Oak, and ex-Speyside casks

Dave Keon was a centre forward for the Maple Leafs – from an earlier generation in the early-to-mid 1960s when they won several Stanley Cups (prior to his being named Captain). Aged 14 years in honour of his jersey number 14. The ABV is also a nod to Keon’s 45-point first season. And the 4 types of oak casks are a nod to his 4 Stanley Cup wins.

Here is how it compares to other Wiser’s whiskies in my Meta-Critic Database:

Gooderham & Worts Four Grain: 8.58 ± 0.33 on 18 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s 15yo: 8.32 ± 0.27 on 8 reviews ($$$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Darryl Sitter 10yo: 8.08 ± 0.41 on 7 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Dave Keon 14yo: 8.86 ± 0.17 on 7 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Guy Lafleur 10yo: 8.48 ± 0.10 on 10 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Lanny MacDonald 9yo: 8.09 ± 0.47 on 10 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Larry Robinson 6yo: 8.55 ± 0.33 on 7 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Mark Messier 11yo: 8.76 ± 0.35 on 6 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Paul Coffey 7yo: 8.20 ± 0.41 on 7 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Wendel Clark 11yo: 8.90 ± 0.28 on 10 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Yvan Cournoyer 12yo: 8.68 ± 0.32 on 6 reviews ($$)
J.P. Wiser’s Triple Barrel Rye: 8.48 ± 0.29 on 10 reviews ($)
Lot 40: 8.88 ± 0.36 on 26 reviews ($$)
Pike Creek 10yo Rum-finished: 8.47 ± 0.27 on 11 reviews ($$)

As you can see, this is one of the highest-scoring Wiser’s whiskies at this price point.

Let’s see what I find in the glass:

Nose: Light, simple sugar to start (molasses) – with creamy corn notes followed by vanilla. Apple juice. Dried fruits, including apricots. Grassy. Range of woody notes, with some nice rye spice (cinnamon and cloves). Slight acetone note, but not bad. Hints at cask variety, but doesn’t come off strongly as anything specific. How very Canadian!

Palate: Even heavier dose of molasses, plus caramel corn. Vanilla. Only lightly fruity, and definitely more floral than grassy now. Cinnamon and cloves again, plus a touch of anise. Black (indian) tea. The oakiness is more obvious now, with dried paper on the swallow. This is nice in the mouth, lots of character with good balance. Really nice mouthfeel too, buttery texture. Nice.

Finish: Medium long. The dried fruits are back, with apple and apricot being the most prominent. Candy corn coating on lips and gum. Cinnamon and cloves still prominent. A bit of old wet tea bag (tannic tea notes) lasts the longest.

A quality whisky to be sure. The complexity kind of makes me think of an aged version of Larry Robinson (although without all the winey notes from that whisky). A nice sipper, probably the most well balanced member of the collection so far.  A good example of what Canadian whisky can be. I would say this is my second favourite so far, after Wendel Clark.

This whisky received a gold medal at the annual Canadian Whisky Awards. Among reviewers, the highest score I’ve seen comes from Andre of Quebec Whisky, followed by Jason of In Search of Elegance and Chip the Rum Howler. Patrick and Martin of Quebec Whisky are also very positive, but give it slightly lower scores (still well above average).  I’m probably closer to the middle of the pack on this one – if the nose were a bit fuller (and lacking that off note), my rating would probably match the top ones. A very good value.

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