Saturday, March 8, 2014

From the archives

I just found this unpublished post from October 2012.

At a tasting at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington last night, I met Whistlepig founder Raj Bhakta and had a chance to try their new "111" bottling.

Their standard bottling is a 10 y.o., 100% rye bottled at 100 proof, so as you might guess the 111 is an 11 y.o. rye bottled at 111 proof. They don't claim it's 111% rye, though they do claim there are only 1100 cases.

Oh, and it retails for $111.

Whistlepig's master distiller is Dave Pickerell, former master distiller at Maker's Mark, and as the story goes he discovered some 100% rye whiskey that had been more or less accidentally double-barreled (first in new oak, then in second-fill bourbon) and forgotten by a Canadian distillery. This was the first release of Whistlepig.

Their plan is to eventually sell rye whiskey made start to finish at Whistlepig (in Shoreham, Vermont), and in the meantime they're playing around with different ways of finishing the Canadian whiskey. Raj Bhakta said last night that they're working with a leading Scottish master of wood, and mentioned they were looking at Spanish sherry and California wine refills.

The extra wrinkle of the 111 is that, just before bottling, it's taken out of the bourbon refills and put into new oak barrels for two days. I'd say that's nothing but a gimmick, except it sounds like such a hassle that they must think it actually does something to the final product.

UPDATE: I should add that I don't know what, if anything, Raj Bhakta said that night that's true. He's given to speaking material falsehoods about whiskey, both his own and others'. Dave Pickerell lives in Kentucky and gave a recent interview in which Whistlepig wasn't even mentioned; he seems to still be in charge of cask selection, but whether he has anything to do with any plans for a future distillery in Vermont remains to be seen. I mention this only because I just came across a recent blog post that refers to Whistlepig as "a distillery with a rich and storied past," and even picks up on their snake oil about the ultra posh pigs they raise. The symbolism is almost too much: The company is blowing smoke up the consumer's ass about Carpathian swine raised for royalty, when a whistlepig is actually just a groundhog.

No comments:

Post a Comment