Last summer, I bought a new truck in Idaho and drove it back to Alaska, through Canada (duh). I picked up a few bottles of whisky that are not exported to the US. Five friends and I sampled all of them last week, along with a couple you can find in the US. One whisky we sampled is a Wisers 18 YO. You'll notice two bottles of this whisky in the photo, one is an exported bottle, the other bottle I bought in Canada.
Each of us had two small and identical tasting glasses. We'd pour about .5 oz for tasting samples and without any real rigor, just move down the line of bottles, taking some informal notes on flavor, finish, smell, mouth feel, etc...
We then ranked each from 1 - 11 in preferential order. All of our rankings were then tabulated to find out the overall ranking from 1 - 11. Of interest, is that all of our rankings were quite close. In no case were any of our rankings grater than two spots up or down from anyone else. In other words, my #3 was at most a #1 or #5 on anyone else's ranking.
The overall ranking was from left to right in the picture.
1) Pike Creek (purchased in Canada, but this is exported to the US) This whisky is finished in port barrels.
2) Lot 40, 2012 vintage (non export)
3) Crown Royal XR, Watterloo distillery (no longer available)
4) 40 creek, copper pot (bought in Canada)
5) Pendeltons (OR)
6) Gibson's Maple (bought in Canada)
7) Wiser's 18 YO, (bought in Canada)
8) Wiser's 18 YO, (import)
9) Century 21 YO (bought in Canada)
10) Wiser's Legacy (bought in Canada)
11) Hirsch Rye Whisky (import)
Interestingly, the Wiser's 18 YO that I brought back to the states was unanimousely better than the import. It just tasted different, when drinking side by side.
The Crown XR is the one distilled at the Waterloo plant that burnt to the ground, sadly. The XR you normally see in liquor stores today comes in a blue box, and has a blue band at the neck. The Waterloo comes in a red box and has a red band at the neck. We have tried both of the XR's side by side before. They are different. The blue bottle tends to have a smoother finish, but lacks the character that the red bottle has.
The Gibson's Maple is nothing like the Crown Royal Maple that really has no place in this world other than on waffles... It is much, much better. Just a hint of maple and very smooth. (I hate the CR maple).
The Pike Creek was the unanimous favorite. Everyone ranked it #1. This whisky has so much going on, it's a real treat to sip. The Lot 40 is a whisky that also has great character. It is distilled each year, hence the vintage. It is by far, the best bang for the buck. Good luck finding it though.