Welcome to our first club selection of 2023! This quarter, we are excited to share our single barrel of WhistlePig Rye. Now a major player in the spirits world, WhistlePig began at a time when Rye Whiskey was a nearly forgotten category. But for well over a century, Rye was the most produced and consumed spirit in America. I’ve included a short synopsis of its history below. I hope you will enjoy the whiskey, and perhaps be inspired to dive deeper into this quintessentially American spirit.


Sam Crocker

Spirits Buyer

WhistlePig Single Barrel 10 Year Rye Whiskey PlumpJack Selection

Location: Shoreham, Vermont

The story of Rye Whiskey begins before the founding of the United States. The hardy grain grew plentifully in the Northeast colonies, and many farmers would distill batches of whiskey from surplus grain. After the Revolutionary War, rye whiskey continued to be produced throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Virginia. One of the highest producing distilleries of the time was owned by George Washington and located at his Mount Vernon Estate. Rye would continue its dominance in the world of American whiskey for over 150 years, though it faced many challenges along the way.

In 1791, the newly-formed U.S. government imposed a tax on all distilled spirits (commonly referred to as “The Whiskey Tax”), sparking a minor rebellion which was eventually quashed by a militia led by Washington himself. As a result, distillers looked to opportunities away from the watchful eye of the Capital. Many moved their operations to Kentucky and Indiana along the Ohio River, continuing to produce whiskey, often incorporating a higher percentage of corn, the area’s main crop, into the mash (eventually leading to the birth of Bourbon). Rye continued to be widely produced until the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919, which outlawed the the sale, manufacture, and transport of alcoholic beverages. Even so, Americans continued their bibulous habits illicitly in backrooms and speakeasies across the country. The 18th Amendment was reversed in 1933 and Prohibition was over. However, with stocks low and domestic distilleries needing time to distill and age more spirit, rye whiskey was quickly overtaken by imported Canadian and Scottish whiskies. Rye sales plummeted, and the end of the century, it was largely forgotten.

In 2007, entrepreneur Raj Bhakta purchased a 500 acre farm in Shoreham, Vermont with the intention of converting it to a distillery to produce America’s forgotten spirit. In addition to a variety of farm animals, the property also included 20 acres of Vermont maple trees. Teaming up with now-legendary master distiller Dave Pickerell (of Maker’s Mark), the company released its first whiskey in 2010, sourcing from Canada. It took until 2014 for WhistlePig to be granted permission to build a distillery onsite. In 2015, they began distilling their own spirit, placing an emphasis on terroir; their whiskies use grain, water, and oak barrels produced from the farm. Today, WhistlePig is at the forefront of premium rye whiskey, and has played an integral part in the revival of the category in the United States and beyond.

Price: $112/btl

ABV/proof: 56.3%/112.6

Tasting Notes:

Nose: buttered popcorn, berry coulis

Palate: slight grassiness, bay leaf, dark berries

Finish:  spicy and lingering

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