American single malt is taking over the whiskey conversation in the U.S. right now. Distilleries have been distilling the stuff for well over a decade and a lot of it has really come into its own as world-class sipping single malt whiskeys. The style is so wide-ranging and regional-specific that it can’t help but be exciting thanks to new ideas colliding with old-school whiskey ways. WhistlePig knows this and has released one of the most elite single malt whiskeys that money can buy. I was lucky enough to snag a bottle and am going to break it all down for you.
Before we dive in, let’s get a little context. Just to be crystal clear, this whiskey is a Canadian single malt whisky. It’s sourced (as is most of WhistlePig’s product) but was finished in Vermont on the pastoral WhistlePig farm. So there is a bit of an extra special WhistlePig vibe in play with this very old sourced whiskey.
Still, we’re talking about 20-plus-year-old single malt whisky and that’s pretty exciting. So let’s get right into what’s actually in this bottle, and whether or not you should track one down too.
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WhistlePig “Béhôlden” Small Batch Single Malt Whiskey Aged 21 Years
Average Price: $799
This new whiskey from WhistlePig is a big one. The whiskey in the bottle is a 21-year-old Canadian single malt, likely from here since it’s billed as coming from “the first Single Malt distillery in North America.” That whiskey rested in American oak for two decades before being shipped to Vermont for a finishing run in WhistlePig’s rye barrels. Only 18 barrels were selected for this very limited release.
Like a lot of whiskeys as this amazingly high-level, this comes in a nice box with all the trimmings. The box has a nice heft to it. The bottle is also heavy and feels nice in your hand. Overall, it’s flashy enough while still being nicely understated.
Nose: Sultanas and Graham Cracker buttery crust drive the nose toward old oak cellars, peanut brittle, and a hint of chocolate nut clusters with a hint of salinity.
Palate: There’s a deep and dark black cherry on the lush palate that builds on moist marzipan, soft malted spice cakes, and a hint of black licorice and salted toffee.
Finish: The finish leans into the old oak and cellar vibes with a hint of malted chocolate cut with winter spices and folded into old tobacco leaves with a fleeting sense of smudging sage lurking in the background.
This is a luxurious whiskey that has a deep sense of malted whiskey vibes. Still, Glen Breton Rare 21-Year-Old (the closest analog for this bottle) costs about $100 (less on a good day). Granted, that whiskey did not go through a finishing maturation in Vermont. But, yeah, I’ll just leave you with that information.
80/100 — This is a collectible more than a must-have sipper. The rarity of this one (and the devotion of WhistlePig acolytes) will likely mean that the price will go up over time. But the juice in the bottle just doesn’t live up to Scotch at the same age but half the price.