Fall’s arrival means a new, insanely-priced special edition of WhistlePig rye (only 2016 has been skipped in the last six years). This one breaks new ground by honoring a departed pig — the titular “boss hog” — with a finishing idyll in apple brandy barrels.
Now arriving is The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve, the fifth edition of WhistlePig’s most profound whiskey. As the biggest and best expression of WhistlePig, The Boss Hog is only produced when the brand feels they can create something superior to anything they have previously made. This marque fulfills the five promises WhistlePig makes to each edition of The Boss Hog: single barrel, bottled at barrel proof, powerfully complex, distinctly unique from anything they have done before, and remarkable. The suggested retail price is $499.99.
The Spirit of Mauve is a celebration of one of the brand’s founding celebrity pigs. The Spyirit of Mauve is a 13 Year Straight Rye Whiskey finished in Calvados Casks in honor of Mauve’s undying love of apples. Each bottle features a handcrafted Danforth pewter stopper in the shape of Mauve ascending to heaven and a casket-inspired gift box.
With The Spirit of Mauve, WhistlePig has remedied some of its prior sins — Boss Hog IV was so overblown as to be nearly undrinkable — and the use of fruity Calvados casks pairs well with the spice of rye.
The whiskey is rich and voluptuous nose, a melange of notes of mahogany and leather, spice and raisins. The palate takes the ball and runs with it, though in a rather different direction. The spice element is really pumped up on the tongue, with notes of camphor, orange peel, and some sour apple all making an appearance. As with many a Boss Hog release, wood is dominant, but it’s given a twist in the form of tobacco, green herbs, and petrol all providing an intense savoriness that’s almost tannic at times. Somehow a sweet and fruity finish manages to raise its head amidst this onslaught, making for a confusing — but simultaneously enlightening — experience. That said, one must still love oak to really connect with this spirit.
~119 proof (individual bottlings will vary). Reviewed: Barrel #1.