In a change from our usual programming. We bring you a store pick; an exclusive selection from the UK retailer Nickolls & Perks.
I’ve often struggled with WhistlePig when it comes to balancing of expectation versus price. There is a premium commodity to any release from this distillery that mostly oversteps the boundary of comfort. I expect, given the nature of agreements between a distillery and retailer, when it comes to single cask picks like this; there isn’t too much debate about what their bottom line is. Adding in the shipping, bottling and taxes etc. It makes things difficult for any UK store to justify keeping this the right side of £100 with their own overheads as well.
I’ve given this much thought and kicked it around in my head. I suppose it’s the equivalent of trying to bottle a single cask Macallan or Dalmore etc. There’s a certain expectation that the name brings to the equation and potentially selling potential. There are unwritten rules obviously, such as not to be seen to undercut the official core range, although this is an official release given the materials utilised. WhistlePig I believe have placed themselves more in that premium segment of whiskey. At least there’s a visible age statement here and on the reverse label, almost tucked away, confirmation that the whiskey itself comes from Canada. Yes, this is sourced, like all WhistlePig whiskey, until they are able to bottle their own product.
Given Vermont’s proximity to Canada, it makes sense. Also, we tend to overlook Canadian whisky despite some high profile awards and the good work of Hiram Walker through brands such as Lot 40. Just because you don’t see something or hear about it, doesn’t mean it ain’t good. My whisk(e)y journey is as much about finding new whiskies to enjoy, as it is the oldies and unicorns. And if my experience has taught me one thing beyond tolerance for mediocrity, it is that the nuggets reside in the most unlikely of bottles.
This is the second exclusive WhistlePig cask that Nickolls & Perks have released. Batch 2 is bottled at 52.7% strength and resided in barrel #96073 for 10 years and 4 months – I think the 11 year on the website is a slight typo? Just 132 bottles were produced and this is available for £105, or if you fancy some barrel-aged maple syrup, then you can pick up the duo for £135. And seeing how we’ve reviewed everything from gin to Ukrainian vodka this year, why not throw in a maple syrup review?
But first, I asked an Englishman and an Irishman to give me their thoughts on this WhistlePig.
WhistlePig 10 Year Old Single Barrel (Barrel 96073) – Nickolls & Perks Exclusive – Adam’s review
Colour: Shiny penny.
On the nose: Lots of upfront high-toned oak and dried spices. Clove, grated nutmeg, star anise. Some dusky chocolate malt in there too and a good bit of pencil shavings. It’s very polished – archetypal Whistlepig-finished Alberta, really. (I hope they don’t turn around and tell me that this one was MGP now).
In the mouth: Lean, steely, classically high-rye body (Taylor wouldn’t like this) – lots of pepper and chilli flakes. There’s a sweet black fruitiness; cherry jam, cassis and a strong hit of that chocolate malt. The rye is certainly in full song, plenty of ground grain, and there’s a hefty whack of good old American vanilla oak too.
This single cask isn’t exactly taking us into pastures new so far as Whistlepig is concerned. That said, it walks the well-trodden path nicely. If you like standard Pig, you’ll like this. Does the price feel slightly naughty-step for what you get? Maybe. Point pruned accordingly.
WhistlePig 10 Year Old Single Barrel (Barrel 96073) – Nickolls & Perks Exclusive – Phil’s review
Colour: Caramel (real and not e150).
On the nose: An immediate hit of brown sugar, molasses and morello cherry. Vanilla, fudge, oak char, baking spices of cinnamon and nutmeg. Fresh garden mint and white pepper. Finally, Parma violet sweets.
In the mouth: Much like the nose the arrival is sweet, sweet, sweet but with a touch of spice.
Vanilla cream, fudge, coffee cake and cherry compote. Rye pepper spice with stem ginger and a
load of oak. The finish is of medium length driven by peppery spice, oak tannins and a notion of
So, its a fairly simple drop without a crazy amount of flavour progression although it is well balanced between nose and palate. It’s a tasty and enjoyable enough drop but at £105 a bottle, I would be expecting a lot, lot more from this.
Certainly, I think the Millstone rye’s that Adam and myself have reviewed here would offer a much better value alternative.
WhistlePig 10 Year Old Single Barrel (Barrel 96073) – Nickolls & Perks Exclusive – Jason’s review
Colour: reddish copper.
On the nose: a sweet flaky rust, brown sugar and orange peel. Cola cubes, bashed sage and glazed cherries. There’s also dark chocolate, almonds, cinnamon bark and freshly varnished pinewood. Rhubarb, chilli flakes and a Bakewell tart. Adding water brings out peaches, watermelon and a floral note. A very strong and enjoyable nose overall, let’s see how the palate shapes up.
In the mouth: in contrast it feels more mellow and refined. Less wood emphasis. Chocolate hazelnuts, lemon thyme, maple, black pepper and ginger. Orange bitters, sage, brass rubbings and cinder toffee with peanut brittle. Adding water brings out more of the wood dynamic with balsa wood, honey and in places, bananas.
WhistlePig Barrel Aged Maple Syrup – review
On the nose: treacle and brown sugar bring sweetness but it’s balanced with density and a pleasant oakiness. New leather, rubbed bronze and aniseed.
In the mouth: rich, decadent and that density comes through. Certainly not the vapid maple syrup experience you find in most UK stores. Sweet oak, old school brown sugar cubes, connifers, sweet cinnamon and pine nuts.
Score: Grade A
A fine maple syrup – the sort you struggle to find in the UK. Goes well on pancakes, but I haven’t managed to get around to an Old Fashioned yet, as I need to purchase some dark walnut bitters. Something to look forward to at a later date.
Meanwhile, the actual whiskey. I’d go so far as to say this is the most enjoyable WhistlePig that I’ve had, which isn’t saying much on prior form, perhaps? Just that price thing, I’m kicking about in my head, and have been since starting this article. There’s a psychological aspect to going above £100. It places more emphasis on the contents. We do deduct point/s for overpriced whisk(e)y, and I’d justify doing this here. Still, good stuff and bourbon in general, does seem to be increasing in cost, so it may turn out to be a good deal by the time 2021 comes!