It’s December, so that must mean it’s time to get down with another release of WhistlePig’s prized Boss Hog, now in its eighth edition: LapuLapu’s Pacific, which is double finished in rum casks. It’s a single barrel release that’s “almost” 18 years old, but still technically a 17 year old bottling.
Let’s dig into the deets, which are extensive, so let’s settle in:
LapuLapu’s Pacific is not only the eighth edition of WhistlePig’s most sought after annual limited edition, but also the sequel to The Boss Hog VII: Magellan’s Atlantic, released last year and awarded Best Rye Whiskey at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Continuing the epic circumnavigation voyage across the Pacific, The Boss Hog VIII features Straight Rye Whiskey aged for nearly 18 years in new American Oak, followed by a double finish in high toast barrels that previously held small batch, single island, aged Philippine Rum.
The Boss Hog VIII draws inspiration both historically and symbolically from the Philippines where Magellan met his fate at the hands of Filipino hero LapuLapu during the battle of Mactan. Magellan’s journey ended in the Philippines on April 27, 1521, when the local victory dispelled the Spanish fleet. Five hundred years later, LapuLapu is celebrated as a symbol of strength and independence – his likeness captured in the hand-made, collectible pewter pig that crowns The Boss Hog. For avid collectors, no home bar is complete without The Boss Hog VII and VIII sequel.
The Philippines is one of the world’s lesser-known Rum producers. The Rum barrels for The Boss Hog VIII make their own long journey from a small island just southwest of Cebu, where the famous battle occurred. They previously held small batch Rum for between seven and ten years. Just like Rye Whiskey, extended barrel aging enriches Rum’s vanilla, caramel, and oak notes, mellows the profile, and adds layers of complexity to the final spirit. A high toast profile imparts another dimension of toffee and spice flavors.
“On the heels of Magellan’s Atlantic, it was a great challenge to find the perfect finish for the most special Rye barrels in our warehouse. We were already tracing Magellan in depth, and when we discovered LapuLapu’s story we knew we had to track down the best Philippines Rum barrels we could for the sequel. Before maturing rum for 7-10 years, the barrels were coopered from American Oak and originally held bourbon. In this way, they’ve made their own circumnavigation from American whiskey to the Philippines, and back again to us in Vermont,” says Meghan Ireland, Blender, WhistlePig Whiskey. “The whiskey rest first in 7-year-old small batch Philippine Rum casks, followed by a shorter finish in 10-year-old small batch Philippine Rum casks. The older rum is darker and bolder, requiring less time for its barrels to impart notes in the whiskey. The end result is an amazingly unique and delicious whiskey.”
“Like all of our boldest experiments, this one was not without its trials,” adds Ireland. “We actually attempted to send the whiskey itself around the world to Spain, to finish in the place where just one ship from the original fleet finally returned. Those barrels have yet to come back to us, so for the most daring collectors out there, the hunt is on.”
Given its lengthy history and penchant for odd barrels, it’s hard to believe that WhistlePig hasn’t done more with rum finishing. (Mainly you see it in the occasional store pick.) Here it works surprisingly well as a complement to the punchy spice that the rye always has to offer as a base.
The nose is immediately sweet, all maple syrup and molasses, counterbalanced by a light dusting of pepper and baking spice — gentle cloves, nutmeg, and a very light greenery element that evokes spearmint and fresh rosemary. Bright and sweet on the palate, the whiskey feels decidedly tropical, burnt pineapple notes and lemon peel balanced by mint tea, cinnamon, and a rolling, lingering caramel character. A note of spiced apple emerges as the finish comes along, a pinch of allspice, bay leaf, and green tea all lingering. Bright, fruity, and cheerful, it’s fun stuff — and perfect for the holiday season.
It may not be as insanely complex as prior releases, but it’s arguably my favorite Boss Hog release — at least since the 2013 original bottling.
106.4 proof as reviewed. (Proof will vary from 104.8 to 106.5 proof.)