Whistlepig 10 Year Rye Review [In Depth]

WhistlePig 10 Year Rye

whistlepig 10 year rye review

WhistlePig 10 Year Rye Details

Distillery: WhistlePig

Type & Region: Rye Whiskey, Alberta, Canada / Vermont, USA

Alcohol: 50%

Composition: 100% unmalted rye

Aged: 10 years in virgin American white oak, finished in bourbon barrels

Color: 1.2/2.0 on the color scale (chestnut, oloroso sherry)

Price: $63 (because Costco is great), usually ~$80 MSRP (750mL)

From the back of the bottle:

“Fortune, superb taste, and hustle lead us to the discovery of an aged Rye Whiskey stock in Alberta, Canada. We rescued the stock from misuse as a blending whiskey, aged it in new American Oak with a bourbon barrel finish, then hand-bottled this rye on its own. We’re honored to present the most awarded Rye Whiskey in the world.”

Company Website / A little more about WhistlePig

WhistlePig 10 year rye Overview

WhistlePig has an interesting story. Founded in 2007, it’s a Vermont distillery that for years only sourced rye whiskey from Canada and finished it in Vermont (like an independent bottler). WhistlePig 10 Year Rye is debatably a Canadian rye whiskey even though all the branding tries to imply that it’s American.
While I don’t care that it’s American or Canadian, it’s something worth knowing as part of the story. In 2015, they started distilling and aging their own stuff (in addition to importing Canadian rye whiskey), but none of the homemade whiskey currently finds its way into the 10-year whiskey. The homemade whiskey is sold under the “Farmstock” name so you can better differentiate between the various rye whiskeys.
While I can’t specifically say how sourcing Canadian rye whiskey impacts the end product, I bet that the combination of Canadian-grown rye and aging in Canada weather and wood can make quite the difference compared to American-made ryes.
Additional finishing in used bourbon barrels also adds a unique touch. It’s especially rare that it’s made from 100% rye. Does any of this actually make a difference? Let’s find out in this WhistlePig 10 Year Rye review.
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WhistlePig 10 year rye Smell

When I think of rye whiskey, I primarily think of pine, peppermint, and pumpernickel bread. This is not quite the case with WhistlePig 10 Year. The first smell is full of vibrant fruits, including tangerine, grapefruit, pineapple, and papaya, a wonderful blend of bright and lively with dark and savory. A little bit of honey and vanilla butterscotch appear next, followed by pine and peppermint that I would expect from rye.
For a rye whiskey, the rye-centric notes play second fiddle to the fruit, but I bet the rye lays the foundation for the fruit after 10 years in barrels. The 50% alcohol is nicely subdued, otherwise it would probably overpower the delicate fruits.
Swirling WhistlePig releases a little more alcohol and wood that were hidden previously, but remains quite mellow. Ten years in barrels really shows. Citrus, honey, and vanilla are still front and center because of the 100% rye mashbill. When the glass is empty, the fruit subsides and I smell more pine and mint from the rye, and musty wood from the aging process.
WhistlePig 10 smells great. It has a unique smell among rye whiskeys and smells more like a Scotch aged in ex-bourbon barrels than a rye whiskey aged in virgin white oak. It’s complex and interesting, it just takes a little bit of time to open-up.

WhistlePig 10 year rye Taste & Aftertaste

The first thing that pops into my head is, “Oh wow, that’s really interesting!” Like the smell, the taste is fruit-forward with primarily orange and pineapple with just a little vanilla. This has all the traits of a super high-rye rye whiskey, more in common with MGP-made ryes and less with Kentucky-made ones.
WhistlePig 10 Year Rye is a tropical cocktail, but not nearly as sweet. There’s also a light singe of alcohol, a gentle wood poke, and a sprinkle of peppermint. This has the brighter fruit sweetness from all that rye, and less of the darker caramel and maple syrup sweetness that I’ve found in other rye whiskeys such as Pikesville. They have very different mashbills, which just goes to show how diverse rye whiskey can be.
Vigorous “chewing” releases the rye spice and oiliness, as well as a slightly nutty and malty mixture. The alcohol builds as I “chew” allowing the wood and slightly bitter tannins to coat my mouth and remind me that this still has 50% alcohol, not a trivial amount, and had a lengthy 10 years of oak aging.
Nevertheless, orange, pineapple, and banana are still front and center, reminding me of the extremely high rye content and ample time it had to to mature in virgin white oak and bourbon barrels.
Fruit lingers in the aftertaste with an oily sensation that fades into wood, peppermint, and pine. After a minute, slightly bitter lemon rind appears, mixing with the peppermint. WhistlePig 10 is a tropical delight of a rye whiskey, unlike anything else. All that can be said is that it tastes damn good.

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WhistlePig 10 Year Rye Rating

Top Shelf
WhistlePig 10 Year Rye is great, and reminds me of the discontinued Smooth Ambler 7 Year Rye and the more widely-available Sagamore Spirit Barrel Selects. It’s one of the most delicate yet complex, vibrant, fruity, and tropical rye whiskeys I’ve ever had, and has many similarities to bourbon-aged Scotch.
This is not your usual deep and oaky rye loaded with caramel, black pepper, and peppermint. The smells and tastes are a smorgasbord of sweet and savory fruits, and just enough honey, spice, wood, and kick to not be one-dimensional. Like I mentioned before, it’s quite similar to MGP-made rye whiskey.
It gets better after every sniff and sip. I honestly wasn’t overly impressed from my first experience with this bottle, but subsequent tries after the whiskey aired-out in the bottle revealed new nuances that now have me hooked.
WhistlePig 10 Year Rye isn’t cheap, but you if you like rye whiskey or are trying to get into it, you owe it to yourself to try. Regardless of it’s source, it’s excellent rye whiskey.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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