You never know what the annual release of WhistlePig’s expensive Boss Hog rye whiskey will be before it comes out, but you can be assured of one thing: This whiskey will have an unusual cask finish or two. Such is the case with the new The Boss Hog X: The Commandments, a totally unique rye whiskey finished in mead barrels and casks seasoned with frankincense and myrrh-infused spirit.
Here’s the deal—like it or not, there are a few inconstant constants when it comes to the Boss Hog. The Vermont distillery lays it out with 10 key points, many of which are marketing phrases like “inspired by the unfamiliar,” and some of which are actually important—the whiskey will be a single barrel release, bottled at barrel-proof, and sure, “Distinctly Unique From Anything We’ve Done Before.” The Commandments is the 10th edition of the Boss Hog, and the details are pretty wild. It’s a sourced straight rye whiskey from Alberta Distillers in Canada that bears no age statement (although a rep for the brand says it’s one of the distillery’s oldest age statements) that was initially matured in new charred American oak barrels. Then it’s finished in two “unorthodox” types of barrels for about a week each. The first casks were seasoned with an experimental spirit made by WhistlePig using whey and rye that was infused with Boswellia and Commiphora resin, otherwise known as frankincense and myrrh. The second set of finishing barrels were previously used to age mead, an ancient alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey.
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There have been past Boss Hog releases that relied on relatively conventional cask finishes like, say, rum barrels. Then there was last year’s Siren’s Song, which was finished in tentura and fig nectar casks, or the seventh release which got a brief secondary maturation in the dreaded amburana casks (hey, whiskey distilleries, cut it out). We got to sample The Boss Hog X: The Commandments, and falls into the weirder world of WhistlePig, but stops just short of going completely overboard. There are rye and honey aromas on the nose, which morph into a bizarre but not unpleasant sweet and sour mix on the palate. Notes of incense creep up without completely overpowering everything. The rye character is still there, but there are also flavors like baking spice, perfume, sweet cherry and grape, honeycomb, orange sherbet, molasses, bubblegum, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
According to head blender Meghan Ireland, the team experimented with the resins used to season the finishing casks, and she doubted whether it would work until they came up with the rye and whey spirit (they still have that spirit, so maybe it’ll show up in another release down the road). That should be a clue—this is not a whiskey for everyone, particularly traditionalists and those who have had enough of WhistlePig’s lychee-infused whiskeys and sunglasses collabs. But if you’re interested in trying something a little irreverent and a lot unique, snag a bottle to taste for yourself. The Boss Hog X: The Commandments is available to purchase from the WhistlePig website, and you can find the rest of the lineup available from ReserveBar.
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