WhistlePig Rye Whiskey (10 Year Old), 50% abv (100 Proof), $70/bottle
As one of the few 100% rye whiskeys on the market today, WhistlePig has an interesting story. First off, any rye whiskey must be at least 51% rye grain (in the grain recipe) to technically be called “Rye Whiskey” in the U.S. Typically most rye’s don’t exceed much more than 60-65%, with corn and/or barley making up the remainder. But then again, this ten year old WhistlePig doesn’t have just any man (or men) behind it.
During a year plus long search, David Pickerell, previous Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark for 14 years through 2008, came across this wonderful expression of rye in Canada. That’s correct, WhistlePig was not distilled by Pickerell and WhistlePig distillery (yet), but rather “sourced” or “found” and bottled. Pickerell partnered up with Raj Bhakta, an entrepreneur and former “Apprentice” reality show contestant, to form WhistlePig and get this great rye whiskey to the public. Today it is bottled at Bhakta’s 500 acre WhistlePig Farm in Vermont. It has been said by a number of sources that their goal is to create a fully sustainable “farm to bottle” distillery, growing the rye grain that will eventually become WhistlePig Rye Whiskey. But until they have their own distilled product we’ve been given a little gift to satisfy our thirst.
WhistlePig is pure rye without the training wheels. The nose brings a big burst of spearmint, wintergreen, menthol, licorice/anise, and woody spices. All this freshness is anchored with a nice core of sweetness that exudes spun sugar, cotton candy, and some light maple syrup. The nose as a whole is extremely complex but also airy, fresh, and lively for a 10 year old whiskey. I found myself nosing this rye forever to uncover all of the nuances it has to offer. The first sip explodes in the mouth, again with sweet southern red stem spearmint and wintergreen, rye grain prickliness, licorice, a big dose of honey, and dry oaky flavors. Texturally, WhistlePig takes over the mouth with it’s intense spices and lingers on long after it’s “down the hatch”. You’re left with those wonderful spearmint, honey, oak, and licorice flavors.
WhistlePig Rye Whiskey is an outstanding pour, and one of the most unique I’ve ever tasted. It’s currently only available in large markets like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, so order quickly online before all 1000 cases are gone. I highly recommend it.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.4 (Superb/Outstanding)
****Note: Most of the information above came from some general forums and various websites. But I want to point out a couple of websites in particular that have some great background on WhistlePig. Davin De Kergommeaux of http://canadianwhiskey.org has a fantastic article on WhistlePig. He also has a great site loaded with Canadian Whiskey info. Second, Chuck Cowdery is a Bourbon Hall of Famer and a true historian. His site, http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/ is a fantastic source of information on Bourbon and American Whiskey. Give both of these great sites a visit!****