WhistlePig Old World Rye Aged 12 Years

WhistlePig Old World Rye Aged 12 Years

$120.00

60 in stock

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After introducing the WhistlePig Distillery in my review of their 10-year expression, I felt it would be beneficial to quickly follow that up with the next offering in their lineup – a 12-year wine finished whiskey. And not only does this “Old World Rye” bump up the age by two years, it also promises a completely different drinking experience through its complicated finishing process that involves a combination of Madeira, Sauternes, and Port Casks. Specifically, WhistlePig takes a 12-year 95% Canadian rye and finishes 63% of it in Madeira casks, 30% in Sauternes casks, and the remaining 7% in Port casks.

 Confused yet?

Just wait until you realize that also present this at 86 proof, a full 14 points lower than their younger 10-year offering. And with a suggested retail price of around $120, I hope to be wowed. Luckily this small 50ml bottle is the perfect size for tasting so let’s jump in and find out how all of these wine cask finishes work together.

Age: 12 Years

ABV: 43%

Cask: Finished in a combination of Madeira, Sauternes, and Port Casks

MSRP: $120

Distillery Name: WhistlePig Distillery

Review Date: 8/8/21

Color: Muted gold. Lighter than I was expecting with the darker wine finish

 Nose: Immediately comparing this to WhistlePig’s 10-year rye, the finishing process has transformed this into a much more Scotch-like nosing experience. It’s filled with raisins, dates, and dark stewed fruit with notes of light wood and apple crisp. The Madeira casks specifically seem to have imbued a lot of the character here. More ethanol appears than I was expecting with such a low proof, but it’s balanced with a touch of minerality and all those red wine notes so it never feels alcohol heavy. Even with the finishing, the nose remains bright and not too brooding. 

Palate: The palate bursts onto the scene even livelier than the nose with melons, honeydew, and Starburst candies. As you continue to drink through the pour, more floral notes and wood spice creep in. The lower proof keeps everything a bit lighter and more refreshing than you’d expect from a 95% rye, and this 12-year is much less reliant on the spice and earthiness of their 10-year expression. Seems like the finishing casks have really worked their magic here. Sadly, the mouthfeel could be better, with less body than I normally hope for.

Finish: The strong, bright, fruity character of the palate is maintained in the medium length finish. The rye does appear more strongly here, with more spice and more earthiness coming to the forefront. It’s still very sweet, but a touch more herbaceous.   

Final Thoughts: I haven’t historically been enamored with American whiskies that have undergone significant wine finishing. There’s something about the inherent sweetness of bourbon and rye that doesn’t always take well to the added sweetness of wines like port or Madeira. I found WhistlePig 12 to be somewhat of an exception – with flavors much more up my alley than I expected. However, I found myself still struggling with its low proof leading to less than satisfying mouthfeel and less bite than I hoped for. It’s a departure from many traditional ryes, and in a blind taste test, may even lean towards a finished Scotch over a typical rye. WhistlePig 12 Old World Rye is a well-executed wine-finished whiskey that is let down by its low proof and its exorbitant price tag. While it may be an excellent bottle for many, I won’t be jumping at the chance to own a full bottle of this unusual mix of Canadian rye and Vermont aging.

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