This 15-year-old rye was finished for six months in White Oak barrels harvested on the WhistlePig farm in Vermont.
In 2006, Raj Bhakta purchased a 500-acre dairy farm in the rolling hills of Vermont's Champlain Valley. Today, the farm — which is being painstakingly restored to grow rye grains — is home to Master Distiller Dave Pickerell's magnum opus: WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey.
After he graduated from West Point with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, Pickerell served in the military for eleven years as a cavalry officer. Later he received a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville, before serving as chairman of the Kentucky Distillers Association and master distiller at Maker's Mark in Loretto, Kentucky for 13 years. "This is what I was meant for," says Pickerell of the whiskey business.
After leaving Maker's Mark, Pickerell embarked on a journey to find the perfect rye whiskey. "Rye, in its own essence, is just a brilliant grain," says Pickerell. "I wanted to do rye because it's America's historical whiskey." During the Revolutionary War, English blockades of American ports prevented the colonists from purchasing molasses used to make rum. As a result, American distillers, including George Washington, started making rye whiskey.
During his hunt for the perfect rye, Pickerell reached the conclusion that, “To be perfect rye, it has to be 100% rye.” After scouring distilleries and rick houses across the continent for over a year, Pickerell found the perfect source for an aged rye whiskey in Canada.
WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey is one of the few 100% rye whiskies available today. "Rye is the brat of whiskey grains. The higher the percent rye you get, the worse it behaves," says Pickerell. "It gets sticky. It foams. A lot of my colleagues laugh at me for persisting to work with 100% rye because the nuisance level of going from 95% to 100% is unbelievable. Most people stop at 95%. We go ahead and push the envelope and make it 100%."
WhistlePig 15 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey is a brand-new expression that marks the distillery’s oldest release to date. Aged first in new American oak casks, the whiskey is then “finished” for an additional six months in heavily-charred White Oak harvested on Bhakta’s farm in Vermont (Due to harsh winters and a shorter growing season, these trees possess a denser wood grain, imparting a nuanced and distinct flavor into the rye).
As a result, WhistlePig 15 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey has an aroma of roasted chestnuts, along with plenty of oak and toffee. The palate is subtle and nuanced, with faint notes of lemon zest mingling beautifully with cloves, caramel, black pepper and leather. The finish is earthy and bittersweet, with bold notes of chocolate almonds rounding everything out.
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92 Proof (46% ABV)
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Aroma of roasted chestnuts, along with plenty of oak and toffee. The palate is subtle and nuanced, with faint notes of lemon zest mingling beautifully with cloves, caramel, black pepper and leather. The finish is earthy and bittersweet, with bold notes of chocolate almonds rounding everything out.