If the Willett is a crackerjack Rye, WhistlePig is a bolt of lightning, wrapped in velvet. The price is double or so what you’d pay for Willett, because WhistlePig is 10 years old and 100 proof. Oh, and it’s also better than the Willett. WhistlePig is awesome — easily worth the price premium.
You will have to look carefully to find WhistlePig, but it’s worth the effort. I don’t know of a better Rye whiskey at this, or any, price point. Before I go further: A “whistle pig” is a New England name for a groundhog or similar varmint.
The facts of this whiskey are these:
- 100% Rye whiskey — no other grain is present
- Aged for 10 years
- 50% ABV (100 proof)
- Distilled in Canada, bottled in Vermont
- Product of ____ (they prefer not to state by whom it is distilled)
When nosing and tasting this whiskey, my wife and I pulled out many sample spices out of our kitchen pantry. She got a hint of blackstrap molasses on the nose, and I agreed that there is a dark, oily “aroma” hidden in the background, somewhere between diesel fuel and freshly ground coffee.
The predominant note on the nose is honey, which doesn’t smell sweet (try it!). Honey *tastes* sweet, but the smell is dry and almost like fresh hay (we have several kinds in our kitchen, and they all smell different, depending on the type of honey). This could be the source of the floral notes.
There are spicy notes as well: black pepper, baking cinnamon, and oaky notes like butterscotch and caramel. There is also a hint of leather on the nose. These smells are all very well blended and I suppose that’s due to the age. The one thing that’s either so dominant or so mellow that you can’t notice it, is the rye.
The finish has a very faint hint of dried spearmint that’s nearly eclipsed by the baking cinnamon that I find to be very pleasant. The finish is looooooooong.
Bottom line: This is *excellent* whiskey. Get some. You won’t regret it.
p.s. Be sure to check out Davin de Kergommeaux’s review of WhistlePig, too. Davin is probably the world expert on Canadian whisky. You’ll want to follow his site.