Here at The Lodge, our tastes in Whiskey generally revolve around the great Commonwealth of Kentucky and it's fine distillates. The truth is that the history of Whiskey in America goes back even further than Preacher Elijah Craig's first Bourbons in 1789.
In the Northeast, Rye was used to distill a nice, warm, alcoholic spirit to keep the early Americans warm during the winter months. Hardy enough to survive year-round, unlike the seasonal corn used in bulk today, Rye was more readily available and used mostly for baking. It became in high-demand for whiskey-making once the British fought our early rebellion by banning the import of Rum (what? how could they?) Rye fell out of favor during the Civil War when the growing fields were scorched and never fully recovered as a pure Whiskey, until recently.
That brings us to Whistlepig. It's cold as hell here in the Northeast this winter. We decided to add a nice full-rye Whiskey to our Whiskey Wednesday tasting menu this week to get an idea of what things were like a few hundred years ago.
Whistlepig is an upstart in the Whiskey business, having been founded in Vermont just a decade ago. With a goal of making the best Rye Straight Whiskey that America has to offer, we think they're well on their way. They began importing a 100% Canadian Rye mash and barreling twice- once in new American oak and then in pre-aged Bourbon barrels. They have now begun distilling their own mash. Here's our Review of Whistlepig 10 Year Straight Rye Whiskey.
10 Year Age, 100 Proof, 100% Rye, $65- $70 a Bottle
Nose- A strong scent of woodsy Oak. An undernote of Caramel, Vanilla, and Orange Peel. A hint of floral, and then….rye bread.
Taste- A rich and smooth flavor. The vanilla and caramel are full and tasty, but none of the strong sweetness of Bourbon.
Finish- A smooth, warm finish. Full of spice. Rye is a warm, spicy spirit and you can feel it at the end. Very smooth up front, spice on the back.
Overall, a nice, smooth Rye whiskey. This one is aged 10 years as Rye takes longer to develop and we think it's an easier straight drinker than other ryes out there. Over ice, this was fantastic. The beauty of Rye is the finish- it's all business up front, and party out back.
We'd give WhistlePig Rye a 90 out of 100. We thought it was great, but at $70 a bottle, it's a steep spend for a bottle of Whiskey and not comparable to other American Bourbons in this range.