Review: WhistlePig’s Roadstock Rye Was Aged in a Truck on Route 66
Placed on a rolling rickhouse, this beer- and wine-finished whiskey took a long ride across America
What we’re drinking: WhistlePig Roadstock Rye Whiskey
Where it’s from: WhistlePig is an adventurous, award-winning Vermont distiller that offers farm-to-bottle ryes and blended whiskeys, formerly under the tutelage of whiskey legend Dave Pickerell.
Why we’re drinking this: Most whiskey barrels rest. These ones took a joyride.
Besides taking a trip across America, this is the first whiskey we know that utilized both a brewery (Firestone Walker) and a vineyard (Jordan Winery) in its secondary maturation process.
And that process started with an 18-wheeler “Rolling Rickhouse.” Barrels were loaded up for a 6,000-mile round-trip journey from Vermont to California and back. Half of the whiskey — five to six years old and matured in new charred white oak barrels — was transferred into Bordeaux blend casks (78% Cabernet, 12% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec casks) just before the trip.
When the rickhouse truck arrived in California (via Route 66), the balance of the whiskey was transferred into Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Imperial Stout, Imperial Blonde Ale and Experimental Ale barrels to finish on the journey back to Vermont, where the assorted spirits were then married together and placed into RoadStock bottles adorned with a custom rubber tire topper.
The final RoadStock blend is a combo of the wine and beer finishes and a little of the straight rye base whiskey.
Was all the sloshing around on the road dangerous? “A well-made barrel, especially when swelled, is incredibly strong,” as Jason Newell, CMO of WhistlePig, tells us. “They are virtually impenetrable. If you’ve ever seen a rickhouse collapse — buildings are leveled, yet barrels that have tumbled from 50 feet in the air are still intact and doing their job of containing the contents. It would take a lot more than riding around in a truck for 6,000 miles to cause concern.”
The process reminded us a lot of Jefferson’s Ocean, a bourbon that sails around the globe and truly picks up some unique characteristics. Could a road trip alter a rye the same way an ocean voyage changes a bourbon? Let’s take a ride.
How it tastes: It’s soft and delicately fruity on the nose. The baking spices of the rye shine through on the palette, but there are a lot of interesting notes at play here; a bit of caramel and butterscotch, but with a mouthfeel more akin to drinking a tannic red wine. For a rye, it has a gentle finish. If you had said this was a high-rye bourbon with a wine barrel finish, I’d have believed it. I’m not sure I’m picking up the beer influence, but it may just soften the influence of the wine barrels (which held the whiskey for twice as long).
Fun fact: As part of the journey, WhistlePig also created a custom RoadStock Dodge Hellcat that was powered by a custom fuel blend with aged WhistlePig whiskey. That car joined the rickhouse on part of the whiskey’s long road trip.
Bonus review: The excellent Australia-based spirits brand Mr. Black recently teamed up with WhistlePig for a barrel-aged coffee liqueur. As Newell explains: “We sent oak barrels, previously containing our WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey, overseas to Mr. Black’s Australian distillery. The team there filled them with coffee liqueur for 9 months before bottling them up and sending them back to the U.S. Something truly magical happens when rye is mixed with coffee.” It definitely adds a nice spice element to the final product, a syrupy concoction that also features hints of dark berries and honey.
Where to buy it: You can find WhistlePig Roadstock Rye Whiskey for $72.99 at “various liquor stores across the country” (try Drizly).
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