There’s a reason WhistlePig is quickly becoming a household name in the whiskey world. Located at an unassuming farm in rural Vermont, WhistlePig has won numerous awards for its rye whiskey. Founder Raj Bhakta bought the farm back in 2006 and has worked eagerly to renovate the buildings while building a fan base and grabbing numerous awards in the last eleven years.
You might be wondering, why Vermont? Why not Kentucky or Tennessee or anywhere else? “Vermont is our home,” says Bhakta. “When we started WhistlePig, we believed that we could convert a failed dairy farm into the world’s greatest distillery.” It’s important for Bhakta to be part of revitalizing the state of Vermont through finding new, innovative ways to make the land work. “Truth be told, we really consider ourselves farmers.”
Part of the success of WhistlePig is the fact that its Master Distiller is Dave Pickerell, one of the most famous names in the American whiskey business. Formerly the Master Distiller for Maker’s Mark, Pickerell was tasked with creating the Cadillac of the rye whiskey world: WhistlePig 100% Straight Rye Whiskey. It worked and the duo’s 10 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey received the highest ever rating from Wine Enthusiastic at a stunning 96 points.
But, there’s more going on at WhistlePig. On top of their Straight Rye, the brand also makes Farmstock, an 86 proof rye whiskey that is “made from our grain, our wood, our water”, Old World that is finished in old world wine casks, 15 Year, and Boss Hog.
No WhistlePig story is complete without Boss Hog IV: The Black Prince. This 124 proof, barrel strength rye whiskey was aged for 14 years and finished Armagnac barrels. But, if this is Boss Hog IV, where did it start? “Like all great things at WhistlePig, the Boss Hog was born around a late night campfire with good company,” says Bhakta. “We wanted to release our biggest, baldest whiskey – the best from our reserves. But, we needed the name to match. Staring at my 1980’s Cadillac Seville, the words just came out – the Boss Hog, baby.”
Since then, the bar has gone up for each release. “We want it to be exceptional, innovative, and raise the standard for American whiskey.”
Boss Hog IV: The Black Prince
“Powerfully aged rye meets French sophistication,” is the way Bhakta describes Boss Hog IV. This release is the result of utilizing WhistlePig’s highly experimental barreling program where they take the best spirits and wines from across Europe and use the barrels to finish their rye whiskey. “The results have been exceptional,” says Bhakta. “And with the Boss Hog IV Black Prince, we now have the best whiskey in the world.”
The juice is aged for 14 years and then finished in hand-selected Armagnac barrels to bring out the perfect flavor profile. “When we know something will be exceptional – and we knew with these Armagnac barrels – we’ll stop at nothing to make it happen.” Bhakta says the Armagnac adds a wonderful balance to the intensity of the rye. “Most people will get apricot, clove, and cinnamon sugar to round out the spiciness of the rye.”
With products like Boss Hog, Bhakta believes that American whiskey is primed to overcome the heritage brands of Europe. “And with the Boss Hog IV Black Prince, the day of reckoning for the Scots is closer than ever.”