Dave Pickerell and the folks at WhistlePig have been experimenting with cask finishes. For newbies, cask finishes involve a brief second maturation, usually in ex-sherry or port casks. In this case, WhistlePig finishes 12-year-old rye whiskey (distilled in Indiana) in a blend of three different casks: French sauternes, madeira, and port. More specifically, this expression is comprised of secondary maturation in 63% madeira, 36% French sauternes and 7% port casks. WhistlePig Old World is bottled at 86 proof and retails for around $70.
The nose here is mostly fruit forward: cherry, berries and plum, with a slight cherry-flavored cough syrup character. A sweet rye grain with some herbal qualities is present. Taste-wise, this whiskey can be best described as sweet, fruity and dry. The wine casks finish shows its hand early, as fruit notes burst on the entry. They don’t dominate, however, as a sweet rye grain note comprises the majority of flavor. A bit of toffee and a hint of mint round things out. The finish is candy sweet and quickly becomes dry.
Regular readers of this blog know I’m a fan of cask-finished whiskey. It’s a great way to couple flavors of whiskey together with sherry, port or other influences. However, it seems to be slightly overdone here. The ‘old world’ cask finish almost wipes away any spiciness usually associated with rye whiskey. The fruit sweetness of his expression from WhistlePig comes across as more of a whiskey to have with dessert. This is an interesting whiskey, but I prefer WhistlePig’s standard 10-year-old 100 proof rye whiskey.