Living in MA leaves me partial to local whiskeys, but sadly due to the lack of age many fall short. Some have shown promise, but one local New England distillery that holds it's own with other ryes and/or bourbons would be WhistlePig in Shoreham, VT.
Like a few other distillers, especially a powerhouse like Smooth Ambler out of West Virginia, WhistlePig has sourced in order to be able to have older whiskey. Similar to Smooth Ambler, they are beginning to barrel their own product, but actually growing their own grains on the premise of their distillery/farm which makes them the first of their kind. The first of this will be, FarmStock (blended with other sources, since their stock is still limited), which I will be reviewing in a couple of weeks, so check back.
WhistlePig sources their rye from Canada, Alberta Premium Distillery, to be exact. Don't let that stop you from giving this a try, it's an experience you should enjoy.
Age: 10 Years
Proof: 100 Proof
Distillery: WhistlePig Farm
Mashbill: 100% Canadian Rye
Talk about a great smelling pour. Being that it is a 100% rye, it differs in smell compared to even other ryes. The heavy hitters up front are caramel, cinnamon, orange, and cherry. With a little more time to sit, hints of vanilla and tobacco arise. Earthy plant rears it's ugly head, which one would expect from a 100% rye, definitely not my favorite smell but it doesn't kill the nose.
The palate is where this really shines and shows that it can hold it's own against many other contenders far exceeding it's value. One of my favorite aspects of a bourbon or rye are floral notes, which this WP10 delivers in a big way. It doesn't just end there, it adds in notes of warm burnt caramel and vanilla on the front part of the tongue and begins to take shape into the typical flavors of rye - spice and butterscotch. The unexpected surprise was hints of dark chocolate and nutmeg mid-palate.
A well balanced rye, which is great to see, as some ryes fall short on the finish - overwhelming the palate from spice but lack length and complexity. As far as length is concerned, I'd rate WP10, at a 7/10, during that time many notes become apparent. The spice starts the finish and it begins to transform into much more. The spice consist of mostly white pepper and cinnamon, with oak following up nicely to give the overall deep body of the drink. As I continue to taste this drink, notes of fruits, clove, mint, and butterscotch begin to show face. The continued developing tastes allow for a very enjoyable experience.
I have a special place in my heart for WP10, as it was my introduction into the world of rye whiskey. Luckily I started off well, and the bottle being reviewed today was my original bottle from 2 years ago. I just did a side-by-side blind taste test with a new WP10 that a friend brought over and we didn't notice any real differences between the two. It's quality right out of the gate. Yes, the price tag, $70 is a little steep for some people, but it won't disappoint you in the least. For a whiskey to not need time to open up and be just as delicious 2 years later is a whiskey I'll always have a bottle of on my shelf.
FINAL SCORE: 92/100