City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Drink more rye: WhistlePig Straight 100% Rye

whistlepigI think I just fell in love with my first rye.

As you all know, I’m a big bourbon fan, but it has only been recently that I’ve been paying attention to bourbon’s ornery cousin, Rye. Though I migrated over to rye for my Manhattans and Old Fashiond a while ago, I’m currently sipping a glass of rye (neat) that I know I’ll remember for quite some time.

By a combination of luck and a tip off, my family caught wind that a handful of bottles of WhistlePig Straight Rye ($70) would make a brief appearance at The Oconee Celler, a package store in Greensboro, Ga. Considering that this bourbon in question has previously only been sold in a handful of states, Georgia previously not being one of them, this was exciting news. I placed an order, and dear old Dad came through for me. Love ya’ pops.

For those that don’t know the differences between rye and bourbon, I’ll quickly break down the important parts. Whereas the corn-heavy bourbon is sweet, smoky, velvety hug, rye is a spicy, sharp, spanking. And I mean that in the most positive and least offensive way possible.

If you want to know more about the recipe differences, use the internet. (At least 51% rye = rye whisky).

Well, WhistlePig turned out to be a complex and utterly impressive rye, and I’m almost upset, because now I have yet another bottle that I’ll have to long for most of the year due to the limited availability (I’m looking at you, Pappy.) And this pig comes with a pedigree.

Dave Pickerell, former master distiller at Maker’s Mark for 14 years, joined WhistlePig as MD solely to make rye. Rather than the usual 5-7 years, Pickerell’s rye, made from 100% un-malted rye is imported from Canada and bottled in Vermont. It spends 10 years in freshly charred American oak barrels before seeing a bottle. The extra few years were totally worth the wait.

Pickerell did a fine job of softening what is oftentimes a jolt of in-your-face spice. Rather, the slightly more mature whisky unfolds in the throat. After a strong nose of vanilla, pepper, cloves, and old leather, first thing I notice on the tongue is a wallop of spice and woodsy fire. The 100% whiskey certainly packs a punch, but they achieved a depth of flavor that will likely surprise you.

In the two years this rye has been on the market, the critics and enthusiasts have gobbled it up as quickly as it hits the shelf, and the demand is likely to outstrip the supply for a while. Moral of the story: If you ever see it on the shelf, buy it.

Anyone else tried WhistlePig? Now that I’m getting into rye, does anyone have any suggestions that I should check out?

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

21 comments Add your comment

Brad Kaplan

September 7th, 2012
7:28 am

Hey Jon, I don’t think Pickerell had anything to do with MAKING this WhistlePig rye, nor is it “Canadian style” – it was actually made in Canada! He may have helped pick the barrels they bought from someone else in Canada, and he may be helping to craft the whiskey that may be in a bottle years from now. Their marketing is a bit deceptive.

And I don’t think it comes close to the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (my favorite), which is very hard to find but a little less expensive actually (usually).

Area man

September 7th, 2012
8:23 am

“worth the weight” and misspelling your own name and blog title (By Jon Watons, Food $ More blog)

Where can I get some of this stuff?

Worth's it's wait in gold?

September 7th, 2012
8:24 am

The extra few years were totally worth the weight.

Don’t you mean “wait”?

What is it with AJC bloggers? Your communications skills are equal to a 7th grader.

The worst part is you hacks can’t take any criticism.

Hungry Gringo

September 7th, 2012
9:13 am

Leave Jon alone.

Great article… keep up the ryevangelism! It’s getting popular in beer now too.


September 7th, 2012
9:24 am

Perhaps Jon wrote this blog while partaking of WhistlePig; I’d hardly blame him, it sounds so good. In any case, his minor misspellings did not detract from the post one iota. I fail to understand the vitriolic comments that some of you choose to use on a blog site that is supposed to be about something we all enjoy… “Food and More”.

Ned Ludd

September 7th, 2012
9:25 am

As whisky ages the evaporative skills of mother nature cause the liquid to shed water and actually become more dense and therefore heavier per matched quanitities. So it is indeed worth the weight!—

Prime Wine & Spirits

September 7th, 2012
10:16 am

We are thrilled to be the distributor of WhistlePig in Georgia! For information on where to find WhistlePig in Georgia, check out our website


September 7th, 2012
10:31 am

Jon, I can agree with the rye being a bourbon & scotch fan myself. One of the nicer things about it is the mixability of it, I think the best explanation of it is what one bartender explained to me as a “summer whiskey”. It blends well with a ton of stuff, still giving the whiskey flavor but not as strong as a bourbon would be, for example.


September 7th, 2012
10:51 am

No defense for this blogger– if you want to be like a journalist, act like one. Do a little research man, it’s easy as….I don’t know, Google?

This is a great rye, yes, but it’s made in freakin’ Canada, love our friends to the North, but would rather support America, buy American Rye Whiskey!

Jon Watson

September 7th, 2012
11:09 am

Thanks spell checkers! Art hit the nail on the head….friends shouldn’t let friends drink whiskey and write!

Regarding the Canadian origins, WhistlePig is bottled in Vermont, where WhistlePig is based, and the Whisky is imported from Canada. I have corrected the post to reflect as much.


September 7th, 2012
12:26 pm

FYI WhiskyPig is available at I ordered a bottle this morning.


September 7th, 2012
1:59 pm

WhistlePig my butt it’s more like screaming boar…it’s definitely not for the weak…I’m old and soft, I’ll stay with my sour mash, thank you.

I cut the cheese Uh Huh Uh Huh

September 7th, 2012
3:06 pm

1) I bet Mac Magees in Decatur has this.

2) I came here to share the above, but apparently I was banned…..Had to sign in from another location.

Why are AJC bloggers such babies?


September 7th, 2012
3:18 pm

This is a great sipper. By the way, if you can’t find any, the WhistlePig is extremely similar to the Jefferson’s 10 year rye and the Masterson’s Rye, both of which tend to be more readily available. All three are Canadian ryes bottled in the U.S. and have a 100% rye mashbill. Cheers.

Matt Garofalo

September 7th, 2012
3:59 pm

I am the proud owner of The Oconee Cellar located in Greensboro, GA. I told Jon’s dad Jack about this new whisky and I think it is one of the greatest Rye’s I have tasted. I am glad you enjoyed it Jon! I have already finshed half a bottle myself! By the way, we have a couple more bottles for sale if anyone is interested and wants to take a ride to Lake Oconee!


September 8th, 2012
5:31 am

shut up Matt!


September 8th, 2012
5:42 pm

Worth its wait in gold………. you poped off too soon. It is the weight of gold that counts. You are in over your head pal!

GSU Eagle

September 9th, 2012
3:39 pm

Big rye fan. Tried this at a Farmers Market in the Mad River Valley. Good stuff!


September 10th, 2012
7:23 am

Matt………Pls keep it on the ‘down low’ about the Lake Oconee area. It is just too nice a place. Keep the secret, man!


September 10th, 2012
7:49 pm

There is one bottle left at Decatur Package Store on Clairmont Road.


September 14th, 2012
8:47 am

Finished Mac Magees bottle of WP last Saturday. Don’t know if they have another bottle coming. Found it to be a fine rye that just needs a little water. Other Rye suggestions: Rittenhouse ( 10yr Bottled in Bond) and at $18.99, a daily whiskey. Sazerac 18 for pure rye gold and look for new Col E H Taylor Rye coming out soon