The name of this whiskey confuses me. I assume it is a reference to some nightmarish fan fiction crossover between the worlds of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dune and the Spearmint Rhino “gentlemen’s” club.
I got this sample from Sku and his review notes that this is from the “Spice Dancer series”; as to whether all the releases of Whistlepig Boss Hog 12 were Spice Dancers, I don’t know. If so, I assume they settled upon it after rejecting “Price Chancer” for being too truthful: yes, if you thought the original WhistlePig (which I quite liked) was somewhat overpriced for a 10 yo rye (in the region of $70) then you were doubtless very excited when this was released north of $150. Doubtless it costs a lot more to truck cask strength spirit across the Canadian prairies to Vermont. As this is 100% rye, you see, it was almost certainly distilled by the Canadian Alberta Distillers (who, as far as I know, are the only source of private label 100% rye). My understanding is that going forward WhistlePig—who don’t distill a drop themselves—will be getting their rye from American sources; so the profile of their releases will doubtless change. The price strategy I’m sure will not.
WhistlePig Boss Hog 12 (67.3%; Spice Dancer, Barrel 3; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Very close to my notes for the 10 yo: caramel and toffee and clove with far less of the pine/mint/dill complex so often pronounced in MGP ryes. More oak here though and some mocha. The wood gets quite dusty as it goes and there’s a hint of dried orange peel. A lot more pine with water and more clove too; gets spicier and spicier as it goes.
Palate: Drinkable but quite hot and closed at full strength. Sweet at first (maraschino cherry) but then it gets acidic fast. Not as woody as the nose had led me to expect it would be. A couple more sips and then water, I think. Rounder and sweeter (caramel) on the second sip and even more so with 10 or 15 minutes elapsing between the second and third sips. Spicier too now, with some pine and cinnamon showing up to accompany the clove from the nose; more orange peel too. With even more time, however, the wood seems to get more insistent (pencil shavings). Okay, here comes the water: yes, water pushes back the wood and the sour notes but it’s more of a regulation rye now.
Finish: Medium. No development at full strength and after a little cooling/drying action it just switches off. With time the finish begins to lengthen but unfortunately it also begins to get more sour and tannic. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is a nice rye, and one that needs some time, I think, if you’re drinking it neat (but not too much time); with water it’s far more approachable but also less idiosyncratic. Certainly an interesting whiskey. It’s just that, like most sane people, I can’t see any reason for paying twice the price for this than for the regular WhistlePig, which I don’t think it’s finally very much better than. (And yes, it’s still available—though, for all I know, there may have been multiple releases.)
Rating: 87 points.