WhistlePig Blind Tasting
As many of you know, we have seen a plethora of WhistlePig Barrel Picks hit Baton Rouge in the last month. I’ve gone so far as to call it the Summer of Ryes because even some of the Limited Edition Releases from Wild Turkey & Parker’s Heritage are also Rye Whiskeys!
Baton Rouge has seen five different WP releases this summer:
- Hokus Pokus’ “The Real Dark Prince”: 11 years 6 months old, 121.1 Proof, $87.99
- Calandros Supermarket’s “Frankebabe”: 10 years old, 121.8 Proof, Calandros purchased two barrels of ten year old WP and had them blend them, $84.99.
- Calandros Supermarket’s OldWorld “Bespoken Barrel Select”: 12 years old, 86 proof, blend of 50% Madeira, 30% French Sauternes, 20% Port finished WP, $119.99.
- Oak Point Fresh Market’s “Call Your Shot”: 10 years old, 119.8 proof, $67.99
- Oak Point Fresh Market’s “Maple Bacon”: 10 years old, 120.6 proof, $67.99.
Full Disclosure, I helped Nate (Watson) & Clint (Central) pick the 2 Oak Point WP barrels back in May. We got to try 7 different samples and picked the two best.
Everyone has been talking about which is the best barrel pick, so we decided it was time to figure it out. I had some friends over to participate in the double-blind tasting. Double-blind for this tasting meant I did the pouring into a numbered cup & passed it off to my brother, who then placed it on a preset tasting sheet. I knew what pour of whiskey I was handing him, but I didn’t know where he would place the glasses on the sheet. At the the of the tasting, we took our 2 keys to figure out which glass was which. This method is a great way to do a blind tasting when you don’t have a third person to pour for you. Only suggestion is to make it as simple as possible. Next time, I will write the name of the barrel on a sheet and tape it underneath the cup instead of using a numerical key.
Six of us sampled the 5 summer WPs as well as Calandros Supermarket’s “The Babe” pick from last year, which is a 13 year old 119.8 proof whiskey & retailed for $80. All in all, we sampled six different WhistlePig picks. We decided to rank them in order of worst to best, giving each choice a numerical value of 1-6. Each of us would give our favorite pour a 6, second favorite a 5 and down to last place getting a 1. With six of us ranking, a total of 126 points would be distributed to the 6 bottles. I really did not want to sample anything until I tried them all at once, so I refrained from trying anything but the 2 from Oak Point I helped select. I opened all of the bottles 10 minutes before pouring ¾ oz samples for the 6 tasters.
Let’s dive into the results! Amongst the six of us, we were pretty universal in choosing the best and the worst whiskey of the options. Another interesting fact is that my brother, Nate, and I had almost the same score, we just differed on who was 4th & 5th in our ranking. Here’s our official ranking:
- Oak Point’s Maple Bacon - 32 points
- Calandros’ Frankenbabe - 27 points
- Hokus Pokus’ The Real Black Prince - 21 points
- Tied: Calandros’ The Babe - 19 points
- Tied: Oak Point’s Call Your Shot - 19 points
- Calandros’ Bespoken - 8 points
Picks 1-5 are all fantastic. On a ten-point scale, we all agreed they would be in the 8.5+. If we did the tasting today, there could easily be a bit of variance in them. You won’t be disappointed if you pick any of the 10 year WP picks around town. A few of us tried the 12 y/o Bespoken barrel again after finishing our rankings and compilations and agreed that it had slightly grown on us. It’s probably not fair to throw that completely different style of whiskey in the mix with the heavy proof 10 years but oh well, we did!
Here are my own takes and rankings on the WP releases:
- Oak Point’s Maple Bacon: This truly stood out amongst some heavy competition. A great mixture of maple and cinnamon with a bit of warm salt. It is perfectly balanced and honestly I’m salivating just thinking about it right now!
- Calandros Frankenbabe: I am surprised by how much i liked this one. I judged a book by it’s cover on this bottle before trying. I heard years ago that when somebody buys two barrel picks and blends them together, they are trying to hide an off flavor from one of the picks. That couldn’t be further from the truth here though. It’s just a fantastic bottle of rye whiskey with this brightness that the other bottles didn’t have.
- Hokus’ The Real Black Prince: Another great bottle of whiskey here. I struggled between placing this in 3rd or 4th place. It’s a great bottle of rye with some warmth and baking spices. I think this might’ve been the most deceptive bottle too in that I did not pick up on the high proof. It did NOT drink like it was the second strongest whiskey in the line up.
- Calandros The Babe: I tried this when it first came out last year and remember being blown away by how good it is. I bought a bottle and put it in my bunker and didn’t touch it till Wednesday night. I was practically positive that it would steal the show, I mean its a 13 year old Rye whiskey after all. This bottle did not live up to its fervent hype compared with all the new-comers. It’s still a great bottle of whiskey but it’s not the best. I didn’t even write any tasting notes on it because I was so much more impressed with the other ones.
- Oak Point’s Call Your Shot: The main complaint that everyone else said is that this ryw was over-oaked, i.e. it spent too long in the barrel. I promptly told my co-tasters that they were crazy because this is a fantastic whiskey! Yes, there is definitely a big hit of woody oak on the palate but that just makes it even better! If you like American whiskeys that have some age to them, you’ll like this one.
- Calandros Bespoken Select: I will be honest, this is a very mediocre bottle of Old World WhistlePig. It’s not bad by any means, it's almost just a bit unremarkable. Maybe it's the Madeira finish on this that is unsettling. I can only think of one bourbon that has a madeira finish, it’s more common in the scotch world but still not that common.
The big takeaway is that we have a plethora of great whiskey available to us. Everyone should buy a “Maple Bacon” and a “Call Your Shot.” I’m not saying that just because Oak Point is one of our partners; they are both fantastic bottles of whiskey that have a ton of variety within them. You cannot go wrong with either. The price for BSoBR members is also fantastic. It comes in at $67.99 with the 10% off discount. That is literally $20 cheaper than the Hokus pick. I hope that y’all have been enjoying the Summer of Ryes as much as we have!
What barrel picks have you tried around town? Which ones do you like? Let us know in the comments below.
President & Co-Founder, BSoBR