Review: WhistlePig 13 Year Total Wine Store Pick

Following my review for WhistlePig 10 year, I’ve decided to crack open my store pick of WhistlePig 13 to see how it compares.  One sip in and I can tell you without a doubt that the store pick is better and much more like what I had hoped the 10 year would have been.

I saw the handwritten sign for the store pick at the Total Wine in Kennesaw, GA with the words “Our last pick with Dave Pickerell.  13 Year WhistlePig”.  I was skeptical of the age until I saw the sticker on the bottle that actually said “Total Wine & More 13 Year”.  I was intrigued.  I flagged down the clerk in the whiskey aisle and asked him if he knew anything about it and he said that it was MGP rye and that they only had a few bottles left.  That was all the information he had, but it was enough for me to chance the extra $15 and snag the $94.99 bottle (steep, I know) and pray that it was good.

I bought it the week before my monthly tasting group was to meet.  I knew that we would be sampling the original 10 year bottling and thought that I would have a pour of the 13 year the following day in order to compare them.  The 10 year was a disappointment to me (check out my review here).  Maybe it was the hype behind WhistlePig, or maybe it was simply that I wasn’t super impressed by it, but I was almost dreading opening the 13 year.  Knowing that I had spent $95 on it and having not really liked the original, I was worried that I wouldn’t like this one either and I’d be out $95.  I could always trade it off, right?  Recoup my losses?  Nah…I’ve got a whiskey blog that needs reviews!

So the following day, I cracked it open and never looked back.  The color alone was enough of an indicator that these two were definitely not of the same caliber, with the 13 year being a deep, rich amber compared to the lighter 10 year.  The 13 year clocked in at 110.8 proof, a decent bump up from the 10 year’s baseline 100.

If you couldn’t tell from the color, the 10 year is on the left and the 13 year on the right.  

The nose on it was similar to the 10 year, orange and vanilla, but intensified, maybe even a hint of tobacco.  There was a bit of an alcohol burn that came along with it the deeper I went, but overall it was a pleasant aroma.  The palate is where the difference really became apparent.  The flavors were much more prominent, with notes of caramel and vanilla and a hint of oak.  The rye spice was still very apparent, but the overall flavors were much more balanced.  It was oily and coated my mouth, which led to a long, warm finish, recalling the orange notes from the nose and oak from the palate.  The butterscotch on the finish that was missing from the 10 year began to show itself in the 13 year.

This was an overall better pour than the 10 year for me.  The flavors were similar to the 10 year, but more intense and well balanced.  I’d like to get my tasting group to do a blind side-by-side and see if their opinions would change about WhistlePig.  Maybe next month!

So, the question is, would I buy it again given the opportunity?  Probably not.  It’s a good pour that redeemed my interest in what WhistlePig can be.  With that said, I don’t think it’s worth $95 a bottle.  I would probably pay the standard $80 for it, but even then, I think that’s a very high price for something that’s not even allocated.  I justified the price on this one simply because: 1) It was a store pick and I typically enjoy those the most and 2) it’s a 13 year when the 15 year WhistlePig is $200-250 typically which I definitely will not be buying anytime soon.  While I enjoyed this, I think I would have been happier with a bottle of Old Forester Rye and Pikesville and I still would have come out paying less.  In the end, taste is very subjective, as is the same with price.

Have you had a store pick of WhistlePig 10?  What were your thoughts on it?  Did you like it more or less than their regular offering?  Leave a comment below.

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