Spirit Of The Week: WhistlePig The Boss Hog IX – Siren’s Song Rye Whiskey
WhistlePig sails to Greece to conceptualize the latest $600 expression in its halo Boss Hog collection.
“Boss Hog is always unique and special,” vows WhistlePig Head Blender Meghan Ireland, sharing with Maxim the origins of the latest iteration in their halo Boss Hog series. Apparently the ancient theme of Greece and the Muses was suggested, so the WhistlePig brain trust started researching different Hellenic spirits, foods and gastronomic oddities to discover what kind of culinary delights would work well with their whiskey.
“Fig was one of the first things that came to mind because to be honest it goes on all of our charcuterie boards we do at work — we always pair fig with our whiskies,” shares Ireland. “So when I learned that Fig was a big part of Greek culture I was like, This is gonna be great, we already pair it with whiskey! We know it works from a flavor standpoint, like they’re really complimentary.”
So for research the team — including Ireland and Liz Rhoades, WhistlePig’s Head of Whiskey Development — headed to Greece, stopping at the Peloponnesian city of Patras where the Greek liqueur tentura was born. There they studied with local distillers to learn its secrets, returning home to Vermont to brew their own batch fresh from scratch.
“What was so great about tentura is people have their own family’s recipe, so it always kind of traditionally had the same notes,” explains the Master Blender, namechecking cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, orange peels and honey. They also made a non-alcoholic fig nectar, and barreled that.
“We were able to make our own WhistlePig tentura family recipe and get those flavors balanced in a way that would really allow the whiskey to gain some great flavors — but also allow it to shine through,” she stresses. “Every Boss Hog starts with a great base rye whiskey, so while we’re adding flavors and complexity we also wanna make sure our Rye is still shining through.”
And what a base to begin with. The Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song starts with a Canadian rye that spent 13 years maturing in new American Oak. From all the barrels aging at their 500-acre Vermont farm, Ireland’s advanced palate cherrypicked this single barrel as the ideal to pair with the expected flavor notes from the Greek inspiration. So they poured the rye single-barrel into a fig nectar cask for one week, then into the tentura cask for another week.
“We’re calling this our most creative Boss Hog ever,” she underscores, “because we actually made both of the finishing barrels for the first time ever.”
Another Greek touch that WhistlePig claims played a major influence in the conceptualization of the ninth Boss Hog edition are the nine Muses from Greek mythology. A pewter topper statue of one crowns every bottle of The Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song, making the set collectible for those completists out there. (Fun fact: apparently Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, is the rarest topper should you find one.)
Of course the eponymous Sirens from the whiskey’s name — the mythical ladies whose song was so beautiful it would beckon sailors, including Odysseus, to crash their boats into craggy shores in pursuit — are the daughters of the Muses themselves. “You could say the Greek Muses guided us toward the discovery and persistence of creating Siren’s Song,” adds Rhoades, WhistlePig’s Head of Whiskey Development.
So what exactly can you expect from Siren’s Song? Ireland reveals its aroma is heavily influenced by the tentura: “You’re gonna immediately get those nutmeg and citrus orange notes first thing that come across when you nose the glass,” she says. “As you take a sip you really do get that rye spice, followed by some really nice dried fruit notes. And when you get towards the end, there’s just a nice long delicious finish.”
WhistlePig The Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song comes bottled between 102.5-106.2 (51.3%-53.1% ABV), with a suggested retail price of $600.