Showing posts with label Alberta Distillers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alberta Distillers. Show all posts

Friday, July 23, 2021

WhistlePig PiggyBack 6 Year 100% Rye Review & Tasting Notes

 



I'm a big fan of Dave Pickerell and had an amazing visit with him here in Wisconsin at one of his last appearances before his untimely death.  If you're unaware, Dave was the mighty force behind WhistlePig as its Master Distiller. He didn't really do the distilling, though. That job belonged to Rick Murphy of Alberta Distillers


Alberta? Like Canada?  You betcha!  WhistlePig sources its whisky from our northern neighbor, ages it in Vermont, and fully discloses that. WhistlePig does have an operating distillery with a copper pot still designed by Dave. 


"WhistlePig began when we purchased our farm in 2007. After a few years of deep consideration and personal reflection we committed ourselves to crafting the world’s finest and most interesting Rye Whiskeys... [We] discovered and purchased an incredible stock of 10-year-old blending Whiskey in Canada that was being profoundly misused. That initial stock, for which we are forever grateful, is what kicked off our grand adventure." - WhistlePig


Today I'm reviewing PiggyBack 6.  As the name suggests, it carries a six-year age statement.  PiggyBack starts with a 100% rye mashbill from Alberta. It is aged in new, charred oak barrels to follow the American Rye whiskey regulations. It is also certified kosher. Bottled at 96.56°, you can expect to pay about $50.00 for a 750ml package.


I acquired my sample at The Malt House, a local bar located in Madison.  That explains the less-than-interesting photo, but the whole #DrinkCurious thing applies nonetheless. Let me get started.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, PiggyBack presented as pale gold in color. It made a thin rim that created a curtain of legs that crashed back into the pool of liquid sunshine. 


Nose:  Aromas of citrus, cinnamon, and caramel were fairly easy to pick out. When I brought the fumes into my mouth, a wave of vanilla flowed over my tongue.


Palate:  With a silky, medium-bodied mouthfeel, the first flavors I tasted included rye spice and cocoa powder. The middle was soft leather, and the back offered oak, vanilla, and white pepper.


Finish:  Medium in length, the oak and white pepper carried through, and vanilla was swapped out with cinnamon spice. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: As much as I respected (and still do) Dave, as much as I recognize his amazing talent, at the end of the day, PiggyBack is still a nondescript Canadian whisky that has been aged in the United States. If I was at a friend's house and was offered a pour, I'd drink it. But, I don't see myself laying down money for a bottle. Someone newer to Rye whiskey may find this very approachable. Because of that, I'm giving it a Bar rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

WhistlePig 10-Year Single Barrel Rye (Niemuth's Southside Market) Review & Tasting Notes



I am not a fan of Canadian Rye.  It isn't really any specific Canadian Rye, it is the category itself.  It is not due to some amount of whiskey snobbery (which I try desperately to avoid) but mostly because I find Canadian Rye just not very good.


There are basically three rules as it applies to Canadian whisky:

  1. It must be mashed in Canada;
  2. It must be distilled in Canada; and
  3. It must be aged at least three years in small wood barrels in Canada


Wait a minute... there's nothing there about the mashbill!  You forgot that!


No, no I did not. Believe it or not, for Canadian Rye to be considered Canadian Rye, it requires not one single grain of actual rye.  Not one, single grain at all. There are also no rules about adding artificial coloring or flavoring.  


When the folks at Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton asked me to review their WhistlePig 10-year Single Barrel, I asked if it was from MGP or Alberta Distillers.  When they told me Alberta Distillers, my heart sank a bit. But, it had been some time since I've had anything to do with anything Canadian and it was time to suck it up and review the category.  You know, that whole #DrinkCurious philosophy thing.


Let's start off with the facts:  Niemuth's WhistlePig is nicknamed the Happy Honey Beast. It came from Barrel #72355 and rested in Warehouse 1, Rick G, and Level 2.  Did it rest in Vermont for all of its 10 years?  Likely not.  Did it rest in Canada at least three years?  Probably.  WhistlePig claims they rescued aged stock before bringing it to Vermont and then aging it in new, American oak with a Bourbon Finish. It was then bottled at 118.5° and this barrel yielded 132 bottles. Niemuth's has this priced at $89.99 for a 750ml.  Alberta's ryes are, despite the lack of Canadian regulations, 100% rye content. 


It is also a Straight Rye.  From that, we can assume there is no artificial flavoring or coloring, and I'd assume it aged on the WhistlePig farm at least two years.


Appearance:  In my glass, this WhistlePig appeared as a deep amber.  It left a thin rim but created a thick, wavy curtain before dropping down to the pool.


Nose:  Aromas of dry oak, cinnamon were prevalent.  That dry oak was very strong.  But, behind that were walnut and cherries.  And then, just before fooling myself in thinking I'd identified it all, there was a punch of caramel.  When I inhaled through my lips, that caramel continued, which was followed by honeysuckle.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was very thin and oily.  Sometimes a thin mouthfeel thickens up and becomes coating after a few sips. That didn't happen with the Happy Honey Beast. At the front of the palate, flavors of cocoa and cinnamon were prevalent. That spice then changed up to spearmint. At mid-palate, it was coffee and rye spice.  And, then, out of nowhere, on the back, the honey appeared, making sense of this whisky's nickname. 


Finish:  The finish of smoky rye spice, clove, and vanilla fooled me into believing it was very short.  But, before I took my next sip, it all came back to make for a very long, dry finish. 


Before I get to my rating, for curiosity's sake I added two drops of distilled water to see what would happen by proofing it down.  The nose got very minty, but on the palate, the spearmint quality disappeared entirely, allowing the caramel to shine through. The clove on the finish changed up to the elusive spearmint and this time, there was no pause in the finish, it just kept building. The dryness on the finish went away, but it exaggerated the smokiness.


Between the two, I preferred it neat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I started off saying I am not a fan of Canadian Rye. There are several things going on with the Happy Honey Beast.  It threw me for at least three loops.  I'm used to that happening once, or occasionally, twice. But I don't recall any doing it a third time until now. That's exciting. Moreover, in a blind tasting, I guarantee I would not identify this as Canadian.  It gets bonus points from me there.  The $89.99 is a bit steep, but this seems to be an average price for WhistlePig 10.


This is a better barrel compared to several of the other WhistlePig 10's I've tried. For a Canadian Rye, I would say this is very good. If you're a WhistlePig fan, Happy Honey Beast is an easy Bottle.  For those who haven't tried WhistlePig yet, you'll probably want to sample this before you buy it, but since it is a store pick, you're not going to find this one available at a bar.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It