Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
WhistlePig is a brand that exudes personality, and their marketing includes a number of fun and irreverent statements about its identity and approach to the craft of whiskey making. But among the many quips, my favorite is, “We’re proud to have zero generations of family tradition behind us.” When marketing-speak makes me chuckle, it’s a good sign that the brand has a clear voice and focused identity.
The WhistlePig distillery is located on a 500-acre farm in Shoreham, nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The brand is primarily known for producing and sourcing/blending highly regarded rye whiskeys that have received (many) awards for their complex, spicy, and delicious flavors, along with impressive age statements. However, this review is focused on a new offering: The Béhôlden, a 21-year-old single malt whiskey that was only finished in rye barrels.
While WhistlePig doesn’t immediately disclose the distillery from which they sourced this single malt whiskey, a bit of internet sleuthing suggests that it comes from the Glenora Distillery located on the island of Cape Breton in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. If correct, the source’s provenance is certainly time-established, with the Glenora Distillery itself stating, “After the construction of the distillery in 1990, initial production yielded 20 barrels of the first single malt whisky produced in North America.”
According to WhistlePig, each bottle of The Béhôlden is bottled from a single barrel, and with just 18 barrels available from the March 2023 Spring release, this is a truly limited affair. Billed as the “first super-aged North American single malt,” WhistlePig went all-in on the product packaging and overall design, and they should. At a suggested retail price of $799, consumers and collectors willing to drop that much money expect something special. And without yet commenting on the spirit itself, WhistlePig delivers with a beautiful solid wood, double-door, cabinet-style box. As you slide away the gold clasp lock, the doors swing open to reveal the bottle tightly nestled in a fabric-lined enclosure.
But beyond the impressive packaging and marketing, the question remains: Does the Béhôlden live up to its promise?
Tasting Notes: WhistlePig 21 Year Old Béhôlden
Vital Stats: Aged 21 years in in American Oak ex-bourbon barrels and finished for four weeks in WhistlePig’s rye barrels. 92 Proof, 46% ABV. Mash Bill: 100% malted barley. MSRP $799.99
Appearance: The 21 years this American single malt spent aging in oak, imparted a tawny hue, and in certain settings can appear closer to old gold.
Nose: A pleasant and rich nose, with hints of stone fruit, oak, baking spice, and a little of grandpa’s vanilla tobacco.
Palate: This single malt is immediately approachable, with a fairly low ABV and silky mouthfeel. The warm sugar and maple sweetness (that isn’t at all cloying), is joined by hints of stone fruit, warm baking spice, and a trace of fresh cut grass. The Béhôlden wraps up each sip with a medium-long finish that includes a very subtle smokiness, continued sweetness and a perfect lingering warmth.
Whiskey Review: WhistlePig 21 Year Old Béhôlden
The Béhôlden single malt whiskey is a gem of a dram that stands out from the ever-growing American whiskey category. This exceptional release demands to be savored, from its beautiful old gold appearance, to an invitingly warm and sweet nose, a silky mouthfeel that glides across the tongue, and an overall rich and approachable flavor profile. This limited luxury release comes with a hefty price tag, so take your time, enjoy every sip, and relish in the pleasure of indulging in something that sat in old bourbon oak barrels for 21 long years. And who knows, you might even impress your friends with a shared sip of this exclusive whiskey.
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Devon Lyon has spent the past two decades producing video content as well as writing copy and scripts for clients around the globe. But no matter how strong his natural wanderlust, it’s the Pacific Northwest he calls home. Whether it’s the growing local craft spirit scene, world-class wines, or a...