Review: WhistlePig 10

WhistlePig 10 might be one of the best examples of what marketing can do for a whiskey brand.  How else could a Vermont-based, no-name startup go from nothing to being one of the biggest names in the rye whiskey world?  To top it all off, they started out selling 10 year old blending whiskey they purchased from Canada at a premium price ($79.99 a bottle), released their first 10 year old bottle in 2010 (yes, I’m aware the math doesn’t work out) AND they succeeded.

WhistlePig 10 is a 100% rye mash bill, setting it apart from many that I have tried.  Most rye whiskey I’ve had sticks fairly close to the required 51% rye mash bill, filling in the rest with barley or corn.  The 100% rye alone is enough to make it a unique tasting spirit and the 100 proof accentuates some of the more nuanced flavor profiles.  It drinks remarkably below proof and even when I cracked it with newcomers, they were surprised to find that it was 50% ABV.  Where they had a hard time nosing lower proof rye like Michter’s or Woodford Reserve, we all found the WhistlePig to be very accessible to everyone.

The nose consists of orange and allspice with a hint of oak.  It’s smell reminds me of a warm day in Florida when the orange trees are beginning to blossom.  The palate is very sweet with ryespice being the most prominent note, which is to be expected being 100% rye.  There are faint hints of vanilla and I get a little bit of that grassy, minty taste you seem to find in rye, but none of the dill that I usually expect to taste.  A few drops of water bring out some caramel and a bit of oak.  The finish is long and warm, a bit of spice from the rye continues until the end.

This is not my cup of tea.  I was really excited to try WhistlePig 10 and had many times been walking to the register with one in hand only to find myself placing it back on the shelf.  Maybe it’s the high price for their baseline product that kept deterring me.  $80 for a sourced rye seems like a lot of money for any rye when I know there are excellent ones around the $30-50 mark (Willett and Pikesville come to mind).  Luckily, through my tasting group, I was able to justify getting a bottle since the expense would be shared and everyone would get to sample it.  Of the four rye whiskies we tasted, WhistlePig 10 came out on the bottom ( you can read about our tasting here and see what beat it. )

All in all, the value isn’t there for me.  It’s a unique whiskey that’s unlike anything else I’ve had, but I’m just not a fan.  At $80 a bottle, there are many more rye whiskies I’d rather have and you could probably buy two bottles of excellent rye for the same price.  I have a store pick 13 year old WhistlePig 10 that I’ll be comparing soon.  I hope that the extra aging as well as the higher 110.8 proof may make it a more enjoyable dram for me, but only time will tell.

Have you tried WhistlePig 10?  What are your thoughts?  Does it live up to the marketing hype?  Leave a comment below.

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