WhistlePig Boss Hog X: The Commandments

Ten years of Boss Hog releases has brought us to what the Shoreham, VT distillery is calling a “Biblical” release. The Boss Hog X: The Commandments brings an ultra-aged expression of Canadian rye whiskey finished in–wait for it–a combination of frankincense, myrrh, and gold. Obviously this whiskey isn’t sitting in a barrel made of gold, nor is it resting with lumps of incense in it. I guess this will take a bit of explaining. Let’s just go ahead and get right into it.


John H.




December 21st, 2023

Looking to connect? I’m on Instagram or you may reach out to me via Email or Discord if you’d like to discuss bourbon, request reviews, or anything else.

Anyone familiar with WhistlePig Whiskey knows they have always aimed to create premium products for a premium price, and expanding upon that virtue they have always crafted their best product of the year into what they have dubbed the Boss Hog.  I have to give them credit for the homage to their original two pigs from the farm itself (Mortimer and Mauve) with the ongoing lineage of their naming.  Not only is this annual release an homage to the swine of the past, but it’s also something of a living testament to the tenets of great whiskey making as originally developed by late co-founder Dave Pickerell.

The original promises made upon the creation of Boss Hog were integral to WhistlePig’s DNA, and highlight what Pickerell wanted in their ultra-premium annual release:

  • I. Single Barrel
  • II. Bottled at Proof
  • III. Powerfully Complex
  • IV. Distinctly Unique From Anything We’ve Done Before
  • V. Stupendous

When reading through these I find it pretty self-explanatory, and logical, up until that fourth promise of “Distinctly unique from anything we’ve done before”.  If that tells us anything, it’s that the evolution of Boss Hog releases was always going to be something that required months, if not years of effort to create something that could check off all of these boxes.  As to Dave’s original thoughts and plans for where the Boss Hog line would go, that’s anyone’s guess, but I certainly didn’t have frankincense, myrrh, and gold on my whiskey bingo card this year!

From the WhistlePig Boss Hog X press release they had this to say about their most coveted launch:

A testament to WhistlePig’s devotion to creating, breaking and rewriting the laws of whiskey, WhistlePig expands the original five promises of The Boss Hog to the X Commandments for this and all future editions of the highly coveted collection: I. Single Barrel, II. Bottled at Proof, III. Powerfully Complex, IV. Distinctly Unique From Anything We’ve Done Before, V. Stupendous, VI. Fearlessly First Amongst All Whiskeys, VII. Inspired by the Unfamiliar, VIII. Irreverently inventive, IX. Made for Drinking, X. Knows No Bounds. The Commandments are emblazoned within The Boss Hog X gift box, and each bottle is crowned by the lawmaker and rule breaker of Rye Whiskey in the form of a handmade pewter topper.

I thought it would be pertinent to include the above excerpt specifically to show how they expanded upon Dave Pickerell’s five promises to round out The Commandments.  A pretty clever spin, and obviously the marketing department was working overtime on getting this release to check all the boxes for the tenth release in the Boss Hog lineup.  Next up, let’s have a quick peek at the packaging before diving into the liquid itself.

The Boss Hog bottle is always topped with a locally made pewter topper that is nearly heavy enough to be a boat anchor.  I’ve actually toured the facility at Danforth Pewter where these are made, and it’s a pretty killer process.  Definitely check them out if you’re in Vermont and looking for some great handmade gifts.

The packaging the extra-tall bottle comes in has a pull tab on the right side that, when pulled, spins the inner portion of the box around to showcase the bottle and the commandments themselves printed inside (with a gold backing).  It’s clever packaging for sure, and does a great job of highlighting the black and gold labeling of this release.

Now that we’ve covered the backstory and the packaging, it’s time to get into the whiskey itself.  Below is an excerpt from WhistlePig describing what went into this bottle:

Each barrel of Straight Rye Whiskey is aged in new American Oak before completing its journey in two unorthodox finishing barrels. The first is seasoned with WhistlePig’s own experimental spirit – distilled from rye and whey, infused with aromatic resins from the genera Boswellia and Commiphora. Commonly known as Frankincense and Myrrh, the resins bring notes of creme brulee, lemongrass and rosemary to the final whiskey. The second and final finish is aged in craft mead casks, offering a mellow, round-bodied finish with hints of red berries and freshly crushed black pepper.

To be quite honest, I had no idea what to make of this when I first read it; however, I felt the same level of apprehension for Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song when it was first announced, and it’s still among the top of the list of best whiskey I have tried.  With that said, let’s get into the review and discuss how Boss Hog X: The Commandments performs in a glencairn glass.

Tasting Notes…

Nose – Interesting and enticing. Rich rye spice layered with boozy oak and a kick of that frankincense that brings in a dash of smoke and musky incense (like you’d smell at Catholic Christmas Mass). A background of sweetness that almost hits me like maple cream, and some fruit as well. I’m almost reminded of the citrusy peppery note I caught on my first review of Rare Breed Rye, that I’d describe as fruit loops cereal.

Taste – At first sip I catch the mead barrel finish and a lightly effervescent honey note pops with an almost champagne-like lightness before the bigger oakier rye spice comes in to center stage. I have to imagine the blending here was grueling to achieve a balance between the subtle flavors of light fruits, honey, and even a hint of springtime blossoms in contrast with the background of heavy incense, oak, and rye spice.

Finish – This is where Boss Hog X really shines for me. The initial sweetness gives way to a rich palate that goes in a few different directions, but the final play of bright citrus, cracked pepper, crystalized honey, and a hint of that aromatic frankincense is so unique and cool that I keep going back for another sip.

Bourbon Finder Grade: A-

Final thoughts…

I’m beginning to feel a bit like a broken record in saying this, but having the incredible luck to have visited WhistlePig Farm twice this past year and chat with the blending and distilling team there, I really don’t know as there is a limit to what they will come up with next.  At the time of a Boss Hog release, the next two iterations of the Boss Hog are already well into their planning and execution phases–and that level of effort really shows in this.  I would go so far as to call this release a work of blending and distilling art.

All I can really say is that the innovation behind these releases is always something that amazes me.  This years Boss Hog release is certainly one for the books (pun intended) if for no other reason than the excellent distilling blending to bring these flavor components together in a way I couldn’t have imagined.  Thanks for reading along, and stay tuned for more WhistlePig news for dry January!

The Bourbon Finder & Weekly Whiskey thanks WhistlePig Whiskey for graciously providing us a sample of their product and/or the images used in this post. Being able to try new things in the whiskey space, without strings attached, is an opportunity we greatly appreciate. Per our review ethos, we provide objective reviews and commentary on media samples of spirits and products; remember, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

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, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel 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, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

Share this