2019 Ryenaissance Series Roundup

Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye Series Wrap-Up

Howdy folks, 

t8ke here, time to wrap up another series. If it feels like that series wrapped up a long time ago, you’re totally right. Which is my bad, man, I’m the worst. This post has existed for a long time in various inching forms of progress, but today I wrapped it up and it’s time to post it! 

For those of you that missed the series, here are the Whistle Pigs that I tasted through:

Yeah, there were a few. 


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s chat. Overall, the overwhelming majority of these were distilled at Alberta, I think. Furthermore, some of these were distilled at MGP in Indiana, I think. I have a lot of uncertainty about a lot of these because, plain and simple, Whistle Pig is terrible at labeling. They are the worst. It impresses me every day that the TTB is alright with their missteps and general murkiness, but then again, the TTB is alright with a lot of things. 

My original hope was that I would have a clear set of samples from Alberta, a clear set of samples from MGP and then I’d write some awesome mathematical foray into which is better, but I think I’m going to depart from that. Too many samples were murky, but overall I’d like to speak to some trends that I noticed. Furthermore, since I had the help of an associate to arrange all of these blinds, he took an opportunity to inject some non-WP drams, which I think added a lot of value, despite reducing the inherent ability to make this a blind Alberta vs MGP battle. I do have some thoughts, though.


Initial Thoughts

Initially, I have to say, rye in the US is in a pretty good spot. There is a ton of room to grow, and easy avenues for that growth. There are a ton of young, craft products and a growing amount of well aged and premium products. Every year, it becomes easier to track down a bottle of rye at (reasonable) $age at a (reasonable) $price. These things exist on a sliding scale, of course, but Whistle Pig is easier to find than ever, along with many other offerings. I think that’s really good to see. 

Of course, that comes with some tradeoffs. 

For years, WhistlePig has been sourcing their rye from Alberta, and then bottling it on their “farm” in Vermont. I’ve been of the opinion that they sourced really nice rye, but we’ve had little insight into how much rye they contracted, and when it might run out. 

On top of this, WhistlePig is very bad at communicating with customers. Extremely bad. At some points, they briefly would alert customers as to the source of their bottle (Alberta vs MGP) but then declined to do so under the guise of stemming secondary sales. 

If there is one thing that this series taught me, before we dive in, it’s that there is no panic necessary. There is tons of good rye here, present now, and I think it’s likely we’ll continue to enjoy this for some time while even younger producers are hitting their stride. 


The Data

Review #NameRankURL
1025WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Total Wine Selection7https://t8ke.review/review-1025-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-total-wine-selection/
1027Ryenaissance Day #2: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye Bounty Hunter Selection6https://t8ke.review/review-1027-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-rye-bounty-hunter-selection/
1029Ryenaissance Day #3: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye Magruders Selection5https://t8ke.review/review-1029-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-rye-magrubers-selection/
1031Ryenaissance Day #4: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection7https://t8ke.review/review-1031-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/
1033WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Coxs Spirit Shoppe Selection7https://t8ke.review/review-1033-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-coxs-spirit-shoppe-selection/
1035Ryenaissance Day 6: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, PA Fine wine and Good Spirits Selection6https://t8ke.review/review-1035-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-pa-state-fine-wine-and-good-spirits-selection/
1037Ryenaissance Day 7: Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection5https://t8ke.review/review-1037-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/
1039WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, PA State Fine Wine and Good Spirits Barrel #3866https://t8ke.review/review-1039-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-pa-state-fine-wine-and-good-spirits-selection-barrel-386/
1043WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Midway Selection7https://t8ke.review/review-1043-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-midway-selection/
1046WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, The Wine and Cheese Place Selection5https://t8ke.review/review-1046-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-the-wine-and-cheese-place-selection/
1049Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, The Wine and Cheese Place Selection (#2)7https://t8ke.review/review-1049-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-the-wine-and-cheese-place-selection-ii/
1052WhistlePig Farmstock Rye, Release #23https://t8ke.review/review-1052-whistlepig-farmstock-rye-release-2/
1055WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection8https://t8ke.review/review-1055-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/
1058WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection6https://t8ke.review/review-1058-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/
1061WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Potomac Wine and Spirits Selection7https://t8ke.review/review-1061-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-potomac-wine-and-spirits-selection/
1065Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection5https://t8ke.review/review-1065-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection-119-5/
1068Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection7https://t8ke.review/review-1068-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/
1071Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection6https://t8ke.review/review-1071-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/
1074Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: Thomas H Handy 20186https://t8ke.review/review-1074-buffalo-trace-antique-collection-thomas-h-handy-rye-2018/
1077Smooth Ambler Old Scout Limited Edition Single Barrel Rye 11yr7https://t8ke.review/review-1077-smooth-ambler-old-scout-single-barrel-limited-edition-11yr-rye/
1080Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, 5 Star Liquor OWS 2018 Selection (MGP)5https://t8ke.review/review-1080-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-5-star-liquor-ows-2018-selection-mgp/
1083WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, “Pig Casserole” Wine + Whiskey County Selection7https://t8ke.review/review-1083-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-pig-casserole-wine-whiskey-country-selection/
1086WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye Reg Stone MGP6https://t8ke.review/review-1086-whistle-pig-10-year-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-red-stone-barrel-society-selection/
1088Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Rye, #6295 Master Distiller Fred Noe Selection4https://t8ke.review/review-1088-knob-creek-single-barrel-select-rye-6295-master-distiller-fred-noe-selection/
1090Michters Barrel Strength Rye, 2016 Release6https://t8ke.review/review-1090-michters-barrel-strength-rye-2016-release/
1094Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, 5 Star Liquor OWS 2018 Selection (MGP)6https://t8ke.review/review-1094-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-5-star-liquor-ows-2018-selection-pt-ii-mgp/

Here is the raw data. To remind everyone, when I approached these, I had all blind trials lined up and I got the reveals when everything was done and wrapped up. As you can see, there were some surprises in there, in the form of non-WP selections, and even some duplicates. I think all of these are good things.

Overall, we had a range of scores, peaking at an 8 and troughing at a 3. Unduspringly, the 3 was Whistle Pig Farm stock – not a single cask. Next to that in line, was a Knob Creek SiB Rye, at a 4. Not surprising, either – but also not a WP single cask. The lowest scored single cask came in at a 5, which isn’t half bad. So, variability was low, ranging from a 5 to an 8, which means that all sample were at least good, and some were exceptional. 

The average of the entire pool was just a few hundredths of a point over a 6 Rank, while the average of all WhistlePigs was a 6.3 or so. Not bad. 

The casks I know for sure were MGP (like 1080, 1094, etc) didn’t score as well as Alberta casks, but I don’t feel like there is enough clarity in the labeling to know for sure which was which. I have a hypothesis though regarding WhistlePig’s acquisition of MGP casks. At this point, 13 year old MGP doesn’t just sit around. For WP to suddenly come in to a bunch leads me to believe that they are 

  1. Beginning to see the end of Alberta stock, or mitigate its depletion
  2. Trying to potentially cash in on MGP love

Curiously enough, it is my feeling that another major producer originally had claim to those casks and, for whatever reason, either rejected them, or the deal fell through. This lines up well with WhistlePig shortly thereafter refusing to answer customer requests since MGP casks were receiving attention. It wouldn’t make much sense to neuter the sales of non-MGP casks by disclosing which were and weren’t from MGP. Since they are already veiled behind inconsistent labeling, this wouldn’t be tough. 

Overall

Overall, I’m still of the opinion that Whistle Pig Single Barrel ryes are some of the best ryes on the market that you can also buy. They are well proofed, well aged, well priced and generally consistent. I can’t say I’ve had a truly bad one, while I’ve had many good ones. Many even outshone popular favorites like Thomas Handy, although 2018 was not a strong year for that release. 

What really stands to reason, though, is despite their consistency in releasing good product, the brand is plagued with all sorts of customer relations missteps. Poor labeling, a rapid move towards opaque labeling, unwillingness to demonstrate integrity to consumers. 

I don’t know how much longer I care to support their business practices, despite their strong performance in cask picking. Do you? 

As always, let’s chat in the comments. Questions, comments? Let me know! 

Thanks r/bourbon!

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