Whistlepig 10 Year Barrel Strength Straight Rye
The Whistlepig Farm in Vermont is quite a unique distillery in many ways. This brand, which was launched in collaboration with the legendary Dave Pickerell, began by sourcing Canadian rye whiskey to age, blend, and bottle on the property they purchased in 2007. Today we’re looking at a unique product in that it’s not widely available, and information on it is a bit scare. We wound up reaching out to one of the Whistlepig brand ambassadors (cheers, @Whistlepig_Jess!) and their Control State Manager (cheers, Ashley!) for some help getting information on this particular product. Let’s dig in!
Whistlepig is widely known for a few things: they make rye, and they charge a lot for it. There’s always a debate in the whiskey community about value–what is the best bourbon (or in this case rye) for the money? What is the best sleeper bottle on the shelf that no one really hypes? Is a bottle worth the price tag associated with it? Dave Pickerell speaks about this in his very candid interview with Fred Minnick in the Amazon Prime mini series Bourbon Up which wound up being the last on-camera interview Dave did before passing. He touches on the fact that he is strictly focused on making a good product that people will be able to enjoy, and he goes on to describe that while their 12 year product is sourced from MGP, that the product spent four years in development before it hit shelves. Pickerell’s stance on bringing whiskey to market was clear, in that the product should be rated for how it tastes, not where it came from.
Back to the Whistlepig 10 year product. We like to check out the website for the distillery when we review a product. This allows us to see how they are trying to present their product, and to see how that aligns with how we receive it. From Whistlepig‘s website on their 10 year product:
Fortune, superb taste, and hustle lead us to the discovery of an aged Rye Whiskey stock in Alberta, Canada. We rescued the stock from misuse as a blending whiskey, aged it in new American Oak, then hand-bottled this rye on its own. We’re honored to present the most awarded Rye Whiskey in the world.
There’s a slight difference between the standard 10 year (100 proof) offering, and the bottle we have. This is their Barrel Strength product, which is normally a part of their single barrel program; however, in Maine, they offer a SKU of barrel strength rye that is not single barrel. A little confusing from the customer’s perspective, but in speaking with Jess (an Ambassador) from Whistlepig as well as Ashley (Control State Manager) we were able to glean that there are some markets where single barrel products simply don’t make it to the shelves–and this type product is sometimes offered.
Maine was able to get a handful of cases of this 114.8 proof unfiltered expression of the 10 year old Alberta, CA rye and we were lucky enough to get our hands on one before the product ran out in April 2019. We are always happy to try another product from the New England distiller who does so much locally. Quick trivia: did you know that the glass topper for the Whistlepig 18 year expression is made locally in Vermont, and only one in three ends up meeting the tough criteria to make it into the final product? Cool stuff! With that, let’s pop the bottle and have a taste.
Nose – Strong rye presents itself first in a nice warm way. This mingles with some caramel and oak that is strikingly similar to bourbon, until the mild mint comes in.
Taste – First thing that stands out is the mouthfeel. This barrel strength unfiltered product has a creaminess to it that’s very nice. The sweet caramel and a bit of baking spice brings you right through the sip and coats the palate quite nicely.
Finish – The finish is quite long, but not super complex. The rye notes and mint don’t hang on as long as the caramel and spice, but it’s enjoyable all around. I would say this has a nice “Kentucky hug”, but it’s from Vermont, so I guess it’s bringing a New England hug of sorts to the table which–being from Maine–we can appreciate.
Bourbon Finder Grade: B
This is a rye that has a great mouthfeel and a long finish. The ten year age statement had us hoping for a deep, rich, complex blend but it seemed to miss the mark on that particular aspect. When it comes to pricing and value it’s hard to say where each product fits in. While this may not be the most interesting pour in the rye world, it has a lot going for it in terms of flavor and character. We enjoyed this pour and will likely go back for another bottle if the proof point doesn’t shift too drastically. Cheers!
Find Whistlepig at Keg N Bottle today
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is. Our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible, and as such, we decided early-on that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us. We use a simple grade school system to apply The Bourbon Finder Grade to the whiskeys we review, because it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day. Pour a bit and enjoy, these are the good old days of whiskey!