I received this lovely looking duo of ryes courtesy of Axiom Brands – many thanks.
Being a self confessed rye head WhistlePig loomed large yet had always eluded me.
Now was my chance to try them out.
First the controversy.
To begin with WhistlePig didn’t distill their own rye. They bought a load of Canadian Rye destined to be used in blending, shipped it across the border & finished it to WhistlePig’s own requirements at their Vermont Farm.
Having built up a bit of a following & brand recognition they latterly distill their own rye made from grain grown on the farm, aged in oak trees from Vermont & cut with water from the farm well.
Some folks have a problem with this.
To me it makes sound business sense being able to sell sourced product before your own matures. It also allows experimentation & a growing knowledge in handling the spirit in advance of committing even more money into building a distillery.
But what really interests me is how it tastes.
So let’s go!
WhistlePig 10 Year Old, Straight Rye, 50%
Very marginally paler than the 12yo.
Classic peppery rye spice on the nose yet balanced & nuanced with the decade in oak.
A powerful rye hit on tasting. The balance has gone as rye spices shine through with added tannins in the mix leading to a long lasting dry finish.
A no nonsense take no prisoners brute of a rye.
WhistlePig 12 Year Old, Old World Rye, 43%
Can I detect a slightly darker hue to this one?
The rye spices have taken on a more rounded, almost perfumed nose. Makes me want to jump in!
Softer on the palate, even creamy to begin with, before it reminds you this is a rye with that classic dry peppery spice slowly growing in intensity.
A more balanced & complex rye that benefits from it’s ageing in Madeira, Sauternes & Port Casks.
The ‘in yer face’ honesty of the 10 or the complexity of the 12?
Both have their good points – but on balance – the Old World 12 piques my interest the most.
The novel triple cask approach adds depth & variety to the classic rye canon.
The fastest growing whisky making countries in the world do not include Scotland.
They do include Ireland, Japan and Canada.
So Scotch Whisky chooses to attack these countries in a series of articles and posts across various media platforms.
The common thread in all these articles revolves around the fact these countries manufacture and market their own whiskies in a manner not compliant with Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) rules.
Now I don’t know about you – but I must have missed the meeting when it was decided SWA rules applied worldwide. It shows a complete lack of respect for those countries indigenous rules, customs and practices.
The fact customers are seeking out those countries whisky products obviously means it has nothing to do with the rules – it must be something else.
Whisky from it’s very inception has never been about the rules.
Whisky has a long tradition and rich historical vein of tales involving illicit poitin & moonshine distillation, smugglers avoiding the gaugers on Highland trails and bootlegging during prohibition to name a few. It’s in the very DNA of what whisky is and has shaped the development of the spirit to this day.
Perhaps it’s about the taste?
Perhaps Scotch’s strict adherence to the rules comes at the expense of new and exciting tastes?
Perhaps those customers boosting non-Scotch making expression sales are seeking out those new tastes and the rules are not as important as they are made out to be?
I don’t believe 95% of what is on the label, and I don’t care much about the 5% I do believe. How does it taste and how much does it cost…those two questions make up the simple matrix that is my buying/drinking decision process.