Mass Bourbon Alliance is back at it again with Liquor Junction bringing accessible barrels to our Massachusetts friends. This one comes out of Vermont with a crazy 100% rye mash bill distilled on pot stills, aged in American oak barrels, and released as a single barrel at cask strength. This is not your typical PiggyBack shelf release.
WhistlePig describes the single barrel innovation on the back label of the bottle, saying:
We believe anything worth doing is worth doing 100%. Distilled from 100% rye, PiggyBack is an uninhibited tribute to the grain, bringing 100% of its signature style with big, bold spice notes. It ages in American oak barrels for no less than 6 years before finishing its journey as a limited edition single barrel - straight to the bottle. No two are alike, so enjoy, mix and share accordingly.
You can read a little more over at WhistlePig's website. Surprisingly when Derek, Laura, Kent, the Liquor Junction team, and I picked this barrel we were all surprised by how little it drank like a traditional rye. As such, we expect this one is going to be a hit for whiskey drinkers of all skill levels and predilection. We ended up naming this one "To Rye For" in joyous celebration of the 1995 Nicole Kidman movie as well as the delicious uniqueness it produced.
To further bolster the epic saga surrounding this 100% rye, WhistlePig goes on to describe how this kind of experiment came from their farm to your glass as one of Dave Pickerell's final contributions to the world before his passing in 2018:
WhistlePig is the world’s most awarded Rye Whiskey and for good reason. We took an unloved grain, falling out of favor post-Prohibition, and added a dedicated band of Rye enthusiasts to bring it back to life. With a clear vision to reinvent Rye Whiskey, we went off the grid, to build whiskey our own way in Shoreham, Vermont, USA.
This is whiskey for a new age. Legendary distiller Dave Pickerell created his dream playground for experimental whiskey, then left it to the youngest, most restless and rebellious team in the industry. We’ll never stop fighting the good fight for Rye, breaking down boundaries in American whiskey, and drinking our mistakes along the way.
Now you wouldn't be here if you already had a bottle in your hand, would you? Read on and see if this release might be the one for you!
Company on Label: WhistlePig Whiskey Co.
Whiskey Type: Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 100% Rye
Age: 6 years
Further identification: This comes from barrel 6165; it is a collaboration pick between Mass Bourbon Alliance and Liquor Junction; the back label states that it was distilled in VT and bottled by WhistlePig in Mineville, NY - their remote barrel storage and bottling location
Nose: Sweet cotton candy up front. There are aromas of hard lemon candy, wheat bread, butterscotch, and rich toffee. All over super viscous & buttery nose texture. Digging deeper I find an approachably light linen, old dining room wood and porcelain accoutrements. Amazingly, as ryes can often surprise, this feels aged to completion at 6 years. Bountiful sweet oak gently cradles the delicate fruit and sweet candy tones that still linger strongly in the glass. Later in the glass smoky charcoal builds, only slightly brooding. Deep inhales show off graham cracker and rattan. The empty glass produces notes of candied cherry, milk chocolate and fields of bramble.
Palate: Citrus and stone fruit burst forth here well. Lavender and rich cherry vibrate excitedly across the tongue. The finish is strong and long with raspberry, creamy caramel and blackberry tart. Another sip improves the raspberry tones to a level unmatched by another whiskey. Hints of chocolate dance through this pour like a contagious laugh. A slight salinity creeps in late in the glass, offering a slightly savory contrast to the pervasive fruit tones. My last sip is creamy and filled with the delicious explosions of lemon frosting, Easter candy, and tarragon that ruminates on a subtle spice backbone.
Rating: Two Thumbs Up
(I don't assign numerical scores to whiskeys I personally selected.)
I'm a big fan of this one (obviously, or I wouldn't put my name on it). I think there are aspects of this pour that can appeal to drinkers of all walks of life. Irish whiskey fans can appreciate the creamy mouthfeel that the pot still imparts, rye drinkers will find those zesty & effervescent tones, and bourbon drinkers will find bountiful fruit for a satisfied sweet tooth. This has me keen to explore some more WhistlePig releases. Let me know if you've ever had something similar to this down in the comments.