A new WhistlePig release is always a neat thing, but a new Boss Hog release is cause for celebration. Especially this edition, as it’s the first post-Pickerell release. And, while Dave Pickerell was a living legend and larger than life character who left behind big shoes to fill, WhistlePig Master Blender Pete Lynch did a great job with this release.
In creating the initial Boss Hog expressions, Pickerell outlined five standards of identity that had to be met:
- Single barrel.
- Bottled at barrel proof.
- Powerfully complex.
- Unique from anything they’ve done before.
If those criteria aren’t met, a Boss Hog cannot and will not be released. So, when one is released, it’s generally a very fun occasion.
The newest Whistlepig Boss Hog expression, dubbed “Samurai Scientist,” is a 16-year-old rye whiskey that was distilled in Canada using koji fermentation techniques. And it’s the first time (to my knowledge) an American whiskey has ever been finished in barrels that previously held Japanese umeshu, a plum spirit. Umeshu is traditionally unaged, but to create Boss Hog 6, WhistlePig sent empty rye whiskey barrels to Japan. Those barrels stored umeshu for a month before being shipped back to WhistlePig Farm, where the whiskey went back into the umeshu-seasoned barrels for one more month.
WhistlePig Steward of the Brand Laura Leon had a small launch party for the Boss Hog 6 in San Diego, and that was my second time tasting it. The first time I had it, my palate had been bogged down by multiple other tastes that evening. This time my palate was much cleaner, as I’d had less to taste, so there was less corruption.
WhistlePig The Boss Hog 6 Tasting Notes
On the nose, I got notes of caramel, pork, plum, sake, rice wine, teriyaki sauce, and rice. (Side note: Rice is a distinct but subtle aromatic and flavor, so it was interesting and unexpected that I picked it up.)
The palate was sweet, spicy, and vegetal, with a slightly smoked note akin to lit matches. There was a mild bitter taste to it as well. The finishing notes I found were earthiness, vanilla, and oak, and the whiskey literally made me salivate, which is always a good sign.
Boss Hog 6 Samurai Scientist is a fantastic whiskey, and it is definitely my new favorite in the Boss Hog range. That said, it’s not cheap. I for one can’t afford to spend $500 on a bottle of whiskey right now, no matter how delicious it is.
— 60-61% ABV