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:
- Day 1, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Total Wine Selection
- Day 2, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Bounty Hunter Selection
- Day 3, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Macgruder’s Selection
- Day 4, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Spec’s Selection
- Day 5, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Cox’s Spirit Shoppe
- Day 6, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, PA State Fine Wine and Good Spirits Selection
- Day 7, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Spec’s Selection
- Day 8, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, PA State Fine Wine and Good Spirits #386
- Day 9, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Midway 135 Selection
- Day 10, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, The Wine and Cheese Place Selection
- Day 11, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, The Wine and Cheese Place Selection II
- Day 12, WhistlePig Farmstock Rye, Release #2
- Day 13, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Spec’s Selection
- Day 14, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Spec’s Selection
- Day 15, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Potomac Wine and Spirits Selection
- Day 16, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Spec’s Selection
- Day 17, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Spec’s Selection
- Day 18, WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye, Spec’s Selection
- Day 19, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: Thomas H Handy Rye 2018
- Day 20, Smooth Ambler Old Scout 11yr Single Barrel Limited Edition Rye
- Day 21, Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, 5 Star Liquor OWS 2018 Selection (MGP)
- Day 22, Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, “Pig Casserole” Wine & Whiskey Country Selection
- Day 23, Whistle Pig 10 Year Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Red Stone Barrel Society Selection
- Day 24, Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Rye, #6295 Master Distiller Fred Noe Selection
- Day 25, Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye Whiskey, 2016 Release
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.
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.
|1025||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Total Wine Selection||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1025-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-total-wine-selection/|
|1027||Ryenaissance Day #2: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye Bounty Hunter Selection||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1027-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-rye-bounty-hunter-selection/|
|1029||Ryenaissance Day #3: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye Magruders Selection||5||https://t8ke.review/review-1029-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-rye-magrubers-selection/|
|1031||Ryenaissance Day #4: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1031-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/|
|1033||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Coxs Spirit Shoppe Selection||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1033-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-coxs-spirit-shoppe-selection/|
|1035||Ryenaissance Day 6: WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, PA Fine wine and Good Spirits Selection||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1035-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-pa-state-fine-wine-and-good-spirits-selection/|
|1037||Ryenaissance Day 7: Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection||5||https://t8ke.review/review-1037-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/|
|1039||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, PA State Fine Wine and Good Spirits Barrel #386||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1039-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-pa-state-fine-wine-and-good-spirits-selection-barrel-386/|
|1043||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Midway Selection||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1043-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-midway-selection/|
|1046||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, The Wine and Cheese Place Selection||5||https://t8ke.review/review-1046-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-the-wine-and-cheese-place-selection/|
|1049||Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, The Wine and Cheese Place Selection (#2)||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1049-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-the-wine-and-cheese-place-selection-ii/|
|1052||WhistlePig Farmstock Rye, Release #2||3||https://t8ke.review/review-1052-whistlepig-farmstock-rye-release-2/|
|1055||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection||8||https://t8ke.review/review-1055-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/|
|1058||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1058-whistlepig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/|
|1061||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Potomac Wine and Spirits Selection||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1061-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-potomac-wine-and-spirits-selection/|
|1065||Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection||5||https://t8ke.review/review-1065-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection-119-5/|
|1068||Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1068-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/|
|1071||Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, Specs Selection||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1071-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-specs-selection/|
|1074||Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: Thomas H Handy 2018||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1074-buffalo-trace-antique-collection-thomas-h-handy-rye-2018/|
|1077||Smooth Ambler Old Scout Limited Edition Single Barrel Rye 11yr||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1077-smooth-ambler-old-scout-single-barrel-limited-edition-11yr-rye/|
|1080||Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, 5 Star Liquor OWS 2018 Selection (MGP)||5||https://t8ke.review/review-1080-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-5-star-liquor-ows-2018-selection-mgp/|
|1083||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, “Pig Casserole” Wine + Whiskey County Selection||7||https://t8ke.review/review-1083-whistle-pig-10yr-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-pig-casserole-wine-whiskey-country-selection/|
|1086||WhistlePig 10yr Single Barrel Rye Reg Stone MGP||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1086-whistle-pig-10-year-single-barrel-cask-strength-rye-red-stone-barrel-society-selection/|
|1088||Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Rye, #6295 Master Distiller Fred Noe Selection||4||https://t8ke.review/review-1088-knob-creek-single-barrel-select-rye-6295-master-distiller-fred-noe-selection/|
|1090||Michters Barrel Strength Rye, 2016 Release||6||https://t8ke.review/review-1090-michters-barrel-strength-rye-2016-release/|
|1094||Whistle Pig 10yr Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye, 5 Star Liquor OWS 2018 Selection (MGP)||6||https://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
- Beginning to see the end of Alberta stock, or mitigate its depletion
- 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, 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!