Vermont

Review: Whistlepig The Boss Hog Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Whistlepig The Boss Hog.jpg
ABV
60.3%
Aging
14 Years; Virgin Charred Oak & Refill Scotch Casks
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

Whistlpig has released three "Boss Hogs" - a collection of their best rye whiskies, released at cask strength. The first edition was released in 2013, a 12 year old, with a 13 year old to follow in 2014. This, now, is the third edition, a 14 year old which was finished in a 250 litre ex-scotch hogshead (holding Sherry before the Scotch). 30 barrels have been released, all at the barrel strength. If you want to discover the bracing power of 100% rye at cask strength, this is one of the only places you can find it (the only, in fact, to my knowledge not produced by a micro-distiller).


Review (2016)

  • Batch: "The Independent", Barrel 10

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is rich and dark at first, with lovely caramel, rich oak, and some brilliant oiliness. Sturdy oak here, too…lovely spices – dill, licorice root, clove, cinnamon, watercress, pepper, fenugreek seed – and our typical arugula. The palate is measured, full of rye, with oak in the background. Very vegetal – we have our arugula and fenugreek again, but with oaky vanilla transporting all of the flavors into a dry and spice-laden finish which even has a bit of jalapeno. Brilliant complexity!

Absolutely terrific at cask strength. Lots of cinnamon on the nose, our caramel continues, rich grain, dry caramel, grassy spiciness…the palate is full of rye, toasted spices, and loaded with arugula and watercress. A very peppery finish. At first I thought this was over-oaked with some of the bitterness, but actually it is just about right with the tannins providing brilliant structure for the spices and caramel. The oak has tempered the spirit nicely – this isn’t as hot as I would have expected given the proof. Terrific stuff.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very Low. $400 is not cheap.


Review: Whistlepig 15 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Whistlepig 15.jpg
ABV
46%
Aging
15 Yrs; New Charred Oak & Bourbon Barrels & New Charred Vermont Oak
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

Whistlepig is getting closer and closer to having their own grain to glass rye whiskey on the market, but, in the meantime, they've released a number of ryes from Alberta and MGP (in Indiana) stock. Generally, it's easy to tell which is which because the alberta is 100% rye (such as the 10 year old) and MGP is 95% rye (such as the Old World Series).

The 15 year old is Whistlepig's oldest product to date, being triple matured - first in a charred new oak cask, then in a refill bourbon barrel, and finally in a heavily charred Vermont oak barrel. Whistlepig's quest is for the "perfect rye" and experimentation with aging abounds - but this also adds to the list of whisky which has been matured in 2 different new charred oak barrels, showing the emphasis on oak coming from the US these days.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Woody and sweet on the nose, with lots of vanilla-laden oak and apple. Some peppery vegetal notes like arugula and watercress are at the fore – lots in fact – with lots of caramel, wood, and marmelade. Some nice medicinal notes too, and lots of spices - even some fenugreek. At the core, though, there are three main elements which strive with one another on this nose: wood, rye, and sweet caramel or wood sugar. The palate is quite sweet, with very sharp rye both in terms of spice and in terms of vegetal notes – but it is lightly bitter with all that oak. Creamy wood notes come in mid-palate to smooth out the sharpness of the rye. It finishes nicely with strong oak, dark cacao, arugula, spinach, and dill pickle. Quite sweet, once again, with all of that oak.

This follows the recent trend of very highly oaked whiskies. If you like lots and lots of oak, here is your whisky, otherwise I think a lot of the complex distillate is masked with the all-consuming oak. Though rye is big enough to stand up to quite a bit of oak, this is slightly over the edge and brings in too much bitterness and sharpness for good balance. Still, though, very enjoyable.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Pretty steep stuff (~250$ CAD).


Review: Whistlepig Old World 12 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
12 Years; Finished in Madeira, Port, and Sauternes Casks
Recipe
95% Rye
Distiller MGP (Lawrenceburg, Indiana)

After experimenting with different cask finishes, Whistlepig setted on blending a ratio of 63% madeira finished rye, 30% sauternes finished rye, and 7% port finished rye. And then dropped the ABV to 43%....


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Very complex on the nose. Wine gums, mint, oak, and quite a lot of candied fruit. Though the port is the smallest component, it certainly pulls its weight here. Charred oak, rye(but it doesn't dominate), dried fruit, and cola.

The palate is lightly sour, and there’s not quite enough rye – if you ask me – but lots of wood(s), and a fairly good and rich dried fruit, almost chutneyed character. It is unique…but soft, too, particularly for Whistlepig. The palate is a bit too watery – if you ask me – with more wine gums, a bit of tannins, and – on the finish – a few tannins and oak, with some grape ju-jubes. As you can tell, this reminds me quite a bit of candy…and here on the finish we finally get a bit of rye alongside some red wine tannin– and it is my favorite part of the whisky. But….why 43%? A bit too sweet and soft for my preferences, particulary with rye. I prefer the Madeira finish.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Pretty steep stuff. (~190$ CAD)


Review: Whistlepig Madeira Cask 12 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
12 Years; Finished in Madeira Casks
Recipe
95% Rye
Distiller MGP (Lawrenceburg, Indiana)

Whistlepig, in their continued quest for outstanding rye whiskey, finished a number of their products in various casks - port, madeira, and sauternes - finally coming up with a mix that they thought was ideal - their "old world". The whiskey, this time, is not from Alberta, like the 10 Year Old - but from MGP.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2012

The nose is an interesting mix – as might be expected from a straight rye finished in a madeira cask. Quite sweet – honey, caramel, mint, vanilla-laden oak, and full of dried fruit. Barrel char, dried apricots, prunes, pralines – quite complex, but not as full of rye as I expected. Very lightly floral, too. Macaroons, orange meringues – sometimes the madeira comes out with a bit of a wine character more than others.

The palate has more oak than the nose, and is also very full of dried fruit. Cane sugar. Not too much oak here, and lots of complexity present. On the end, some rye and mint, along with a thread of bitterness in a similar vein as some bitter vegetables like rapini. Not sure what sort of madeira they used here, but the wine influence sometimes reminds me more of a fortified white than a madeira. The finish is quite grainy, with a bit of flax. And some orange jujubes.

Very complex, and fairly well integrated, but it doesn’t quit come together enough for me given all of its components.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Pretty steep stuff.


Review: Smuggler's Notch Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
Charred virgin oak
Recipe
Bourbon
Producer Smuggler's Notch (Jeffersonville, Vermont)

Smuggler's Notch was founded in 2006 in Jeffersonvilla, Vermont, though its doors only opened in 2010. This distillate is sourced, though it isn't clear at what stage (i.e. aged, or unaged) from the website. Their rye is from MGP in Indiana, so perhaps this also hearkens from there...


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2016

Loads of creamy vanilla, cherries, some interesting oak notes, and a confectionary character alongside the oiliness of the corn. On the palate, spicy and grainy, though not as complex or interesting as I desire. It’s not too young, and has some solid character to it. Quite nice if not a bit candy sweet (though some sourness helps to balance this one out).

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $90.