Review: WhistlePig Maple Old Fashioned Kit

, | November 18, 2022

Editor’s Note: This product was provided to us as a review sample by WhistlePig. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

WhistlePig is well known to rye drinkers and craft distilling enthusiasts. From their earliest years putting sourced Canadian rye to good use with guidance from craft distilling legend Dave Pickerell, to today’s estate-driven production of heralded ryes helmed by Head Whiskey Developer Liz Rhoades and Whiskey Blender Meghan Ireland, WhistlePig has been a category standout for more than a decade. 

To punctuate their collaboration with the celebrated sugarmakers at Runamok, WhistlePig has promoted the idea of putting their rye-barrel-aged syrup and flagship PiggyBack Rye, a 6 year aged rye with a whopping 100% rye bill, to use in a Maple Old Fashioned. I tend to think of the Old Fashioned as a sum-of-its-parts type of classic cocktail, a 03-04 Detroit Pistons of a cocktail that doesn’t necessarily need conventional star power to give an outstanding performance. That said, these specialty ingredients demand a certain amount of attention in their own right.

The syrup is aged up to a year in former rye barrels, imparting it with a hint of spice and a trace nip of alcohol heat balanced out by “mature” flavors. The bitters likewise employ WhistlePig’s rye whiskey in the production of a distinct twist on the classic herbal cocktail accent. WhistlePig and Runamok make a point of emphasizing the collaboration’s roots in Vermont-sourced specialty ingredients, and there may be no other place in the United States better suited to boast of the production of such an autumnal powerhouse of a cocktail.

WhistlePig Maple Old Fashioned Kit review

WhistlePig Maple Old Fashioned Kit (image via Jacob Wirt/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: WhistlePig Maple Old Fashioned Kit

Appearance: Color me surprised at the similarity in tone between the branded maple syrup and the Piggyback Rye.

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Nose: It shouldn’t be at all surprising that big, sweet maple aromas are the headliner here. 

Palate: Once again, the maple syrup stands out and it works well. I have a healthy skepticism around added flavors or what I suspect may be gimmicky ingredients, but the syrup is very good and combines the youthful “green” aromatics of sap and syrup with the “older,” woodier flavors imparted by the barrel. The flavor isn’t all flapjacks at the campground though; there is just a hint of rye spice lingering around the edges.

Final Thoughts: As much as I enjoyed WhistlePig’s recommended cocktail recipe, knowing that the syrup and bitters work well as ingredients is a fantastic excuse to experiment with both proportions and other recipes. I’ll certainly be experimenting a bit myself with turning up the bitters just a little to see what effect a more pronounced herbal presence in the flavor might have as well as trying out the bitters in a handful of other sours, juleps, or highballs. The syrup is delicious as well.

As part of my scrupulous review of these ingredients, I’ve conducted additional research proving that the syrup and rye can also contribute to the production of phenomenal baked beans.

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Summary

As much as I enjoyed WhistlePig’s recommended cocktail recipe, knowing that the syrup and bitters work well as ingredients is a fantastic excuse to experiment with both proportions and other recipes. I’ll certainly be experimenting a bit myself with turning up the bitters just a little to see what effect a more pronounced herbal presence in the flavor might have as well as trying out the bitters in a handful of other sours, juleps, or highballs. The syrup is delicious as well. As part of my scrupulous review of these ingredients, I’ve conducted additional research proving that the syrup and rye can also contribute to the production of phenomenal baked beans.

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