I was recently lucky enough to have been sent a bottle of Boss Hog from WhistlePig, and could not have better things to say about this Rye.
As I have written before, WhistlePig is a newer distillery based out of Vermont. Their current products include the WhistlePig 100/100 Rye (100% rye, 100 proof), and the Boss Hog. The Boss Hog is available in limited batches, is hand numbered with cask number and ABV.
It’s important to note that, at this time, all WhistlePig spirits are distilled by Alberta Premium up in Canada. But if you want a 10+ year aged 100% rye, with the flavor that has made WhistlePig famous, you’re going to need to buy the pig. I’m terribly excited for the first seed-to-bottle rye distilled at WhistlePig’s Vermont farm, but in the mean time let’s talk about the Boss Hog.
Before opening the bottle
I noted in my review of the original WhistlePig 100/100 how it has one of the more beautiful bottles in the industry. And while that remains true, the Boss Hog blows it away. The darker label compliments the darkness of the spirit, and the cast flying pig topper is an excellent touch.
This is truly intended to look and feel like the premium product it is. This is only the second year the Boss Hog has been made available, this year’s batch being one year older than the last. My bottle is hand-labeled as follows:
- Barrel: 15
- Proof: 116.2
- Age: 13 years
- ALC/VOL: 58.1%
As you can tell by the barrel number on the label, the Boss Hog is a single barrel Rye, the only single barrel 100% rye I have ever seen available. This is truly a treat for any whisky geek.
The first sip
After opening the bottle you’re attacked with the bold, aggressive, nose of a 100% rye. You can smell it’s boozy goodness, this is no spirit for the faint of heart. The first sip, neat, brings two things immediately to attention:
- This is an exceptionally well crafted whiskey.
- This needs water.
As you would expect with a plus 100 proof, water is needed to enjoy your entire glass. I have spoken about why you add water to whiskey before (and how much), so to find out more head to Whisky for Beginners.
After adding water this is one of my favorite whiskeys I have owned. It has the rich caramel nose of a bourbon, but without the sweetness inherit to the genre. Unlike the standard WhistlePig, in which I can find the extremely strong, pungent even, taste of the rye mash almost overbearing, the Boss Hog is smooth, balanced, spicy, and delicious.
The third glass
I’m drinking a glass (well beyond my third in truth) while writing this article, and I simply can’t get enough of this whiskey. I am enjoying it so much I find myself wanting to try last year’s, along with the 14 year old release in 2015. This is my favorite rye, without a doubt.
But is it my favorite whiskey?
At this point I would say it’s dead even odds on a cage match between the Boss Hog and the Aberlour A’bunadh.
If you have the chance to pick up a bottle of this, don’t hesitate, as you will probably never get that chance again. It’s winning top honors for good reason, and with only a limited number of barrels released a year (it was 24 for the first year’s release, I’m not certain the count for this year’s) you’re going to have to get a little lucky to get your trotters on a bottle.
Congratulations WhistlePig, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my readers jealous.