Spirit Of The Week: WhistlePig ‘Boss Hog X: The Commandments’
Vermont’s rye maestros take their halo whiskey and age it in Biblical resins.
Every year WhistlePig’s The Boss Hog expression looks to seek new lands in the world of whiskey, exploring unchartered territories in crafting and aging. For their 10th Edition the Vermont distillery went Biblical.
Its Boss Hog X: The Commandments takes inspiration from the New Testament, specifically from the birth of Christ and the legend of the 3 Wise Men.
The whiskey starts with WhistlePig’s traditional Straight Rye Whiskey aged in new American Oak, but then gets weird via two additional finishes. The first re-cask is in barrels seasoned with an experimental rye and whey spirit WhistlePig created, which was infused with frankincense and myrrh resins—two of the three gifts the Wise Men brought for little baby Jesus (the third being gold).
“We’d been interested in exploring resins for some time as a new way to harness the flavor of trees through wood,” explains Meghan Ireland, WhistlePig’s Whiskey Blender, of the inspiration to play with resins in the finishing process.
“After many trials around specific resins and how exactly to capture those flavors in the secondary aging process, we landed on two of the most famous ones: frankincense and myrrh.
“These brought incredible notes of crème brûlée, lemongrass and rosemary to the final whiskey, and fueled a disruptive story to help bring to life the whiskey journey under the theme of The Commandments.”
After being blessed by these holy resins, the rye was then transferred to casks that held craft mead, which conjured its own magic by adding notes of red berries and freshly crushed black pepper, as well as rounding out the body of the potent rye (bottled at proof between 52.6-53.5% ABV/105.3-107 proof).
Turns out playing with resins isn’t be easy, as the gooey and sticky consistency could prove challenging.
“After the initial trials with resins, I began to doubt whether it was possible to harness them for maturation,” Ireland reveals when asked about the obstacles her Whistlepig team faced. “Our rye itself packs a mighty, herbaceous punch, so it always takes a lot of experimentation to get the exact complement. Any direct contact with the resins ended up on the ‘whiskey lab floor’ so to speak.
“Our breakthrough was in crafting the whey/rye spirit to carry the resins as a previous fill to the barrels—a discovery well worth the wait,” Ireland continues. “Finally, the pop of honey character from the mead in the final finish really balances it all out.”
Understandably the legend of Whistlepig’s crown jewel Boss Hog line only grows, as this latest batch sold out in a mere two hours. Boss Hog X: The Commandments comes packaged in an elaborate revolving door box, replete with a handmade pewter topper of Mortimer Jr.—Whistlepig’s Chief Pig, Lawmaker and Rule Breaker of Rye Whiskey—with a SRP of $600.