There’s no more exciting time in whiskeydom than when WhistlePig drops its latest Boss Hog. Now in its tenth installment, the aggressively experimental whiskey series takes a new step into craziness, finishing its rye whiskey with truly Biblical flavors.
There’s really no other option than to let WhistlePig explain The Commandments to you:
A testament to WhistlePig’s devotion to creating, breaking and rewriting the laws of whiskey, WhistlePig expands the original five promises of The Boss Hog to the X Commandments for this and all future editions of the highly coveted collection: I. Single Barrel, II. Bottled at Proof, III. Powerfully Complex, IV. Distinctly Unique From Anything We’ve Done Before, V. Stupendous, VI. Fearlessly First Amongst All Whiskeys, VII. Inspired by the Unfamiliar, VIII. Irreverently inventive, IX. Made for Drinking, X. Knows No Bounds. The Commandments are emblazoned within The Boss Hog X gift box, and each bottle is crowned by the lawmaker and rule breaker of Rye Whiskey in the form of a handmade pewter topper.
Reaching for the Rye promised land, The Boss Hog X: The Commandments captures flavors inspired by WhistlePig’s own land of milk and honey in Vermont. Each barrel of Straight Rye Whiskey is aged in new American Oak before completing its journey in two unorthodox finishing barrels.
The first is seasoned with WhistlePig’s own experimental spirit – distilled from rye and whey, infused with aromatic resins from the genera Boswellia and Commiphora — commonly known as Frankincense and Myrrh. The second and final finish is aging in craft mead casks.
So there you go: Milk (whey) and honey (mead). Frankincense and Myrrh. Hey, we get it! There’s no gold here — the bottle stopper is pewter — but basically it’s got everything else needed for a young savior to find his way in the world.
I was excited to get a chance to try it, and I have some thoughts.
On the nose, this was less surprising than I expected it would be, featuring iconic rye spice notes, allspice, cloves, and pepper, ringed with a savory, almost charred edge. Sweetness lies beneath, but it’s not at all clear what lies in store. Hints of honey, later developing into an apple cider note, become more insistent with a little air time.
The palate is where things blow up. This whiskey, like many a Boss Hog before it, has been twisted and turned a million different ways, and while purists may feel the manipulation is too much, they’re really missing out. Bold honey notes initially dominate — mead is not a subtle flavor, after all — and the whiskey may be overly sweet for some. It takes some patience and exploration for the herbal — er, “aromatic resin” — notes to become clearer, with time revealing notes of blackberries, rosemary, and a surprising slug of bittersweet chocolate. With time: slightly smoky incense. Frankincense, I guess, wafting into your nostrils.
Intense and immersive, it is gorgeous at bottle proof but a splash of water helps temper the sweetness a bit, evoking notes of sweet tea and helping the more fragrant, incense-heavy qualities of the whiskey to show themselves. On the fade-out, there’s a vaguely Middle Eastern spice bazaar note — an aromatic punch that melds well with all that’s come before.
As with last year’s Siren’s Song bottling, there’s nothing not to like here, but the experience has absolutely nothing in common with any rye you’ve had before. I love it. But if you said you hated it, I’d totally get that.
Oh – and the wooden box it comes in is tons of fun too, featuring a revolving door which reveals your prize waiting within. I’d never advocating showing off a whiskey bottle without sharing it with friends, but if you’re of that mindset, this might do the trick.
106.4 proof as reviewed (bottles vary from 105.3 to 107 depending on barrel). Reviewed: Barrel #14.
A / $600 / whistlepigwhiskey.com