Say what you will about WhistlePig, but make no mistake: they produce some fantastic rye whiskey. While they are busy churning out new distillate in their new still at their Vermont distillery, WhistlePig continues to mature and bottle sourced Canadian whisky in interesting ways. First was their outstanding 10-year-old standard rye expression. After that was the highly-rated cask-strength 13-year-old Boss Hog. 2015 saw the release of WhistlePig Old World, a 12-year-old rye finished in three different wine casks. I thought the cask finishing was a bit overdone, but okay otherwise.
Now, WhistlePig’s oldest expression to date, a 15-year-old rye whiskey, is being released. Made from 100% rye, the whiskey is finished in barrels made from Vermont Oak trees grown on the WhistlePig farm. The company says these trees experience a short growing season, giving the trees a tight grain pattern.
This one’s bottled at 92 proof, but the nose seems a bit more intense than expected. Oak spice, vanilla and toffee dominate the nose. With a little airtime, the sweet, creamy notes tame the spicer ones. The entry is full of wonderful warm spice (cinnamon, cloves). The palate isn’t as sweet as the nose. Oak tannins and vanilla bean develop soon after the spicy entry. There is a bit of a sweet creaminess and a slight citrus note coming in at the back palate. The finish is long but a bit drying, leaving behind notes of cigar box, cedar, and dried orange peel.
All in all, this is one fine rye whiskey. At 15 years old, the big dry oak notes don’t really shine until the back palate into the finish. I expect a whiskey of this advanced age to showcase big oak notes, and this whiskey succeeds in that. Maybe the oak is a tad overpowering on the backend. Minor gripe aside, WhistlePig 15-year is full of fantastic flavors that only a well-aged rye whiskey can bring. While this one was enjoyable, I’d probably reach for a bottle of their 10-year-old rye first. The suggested retail price is $199.99 for a 750ml bottle.