WhistlePig’s Boss Hog is not easy to come by. The company only produces a limited number of barrels and they’re quickly snatched up by bars and collectors alike. They aren’t cheap, either — usually hitting the market for somewhere around $500. But I’m a longtime WP supporter and, as any whiskey aficionado will tell you, price and scarcity are rarely enough to stop us from trying to nab the juice we love.
I’ve hustled to get bottles (or even just sips!) of Boss Hog plenty in the past, but when news broke of Boss Hog VII: Magellan’s Atlantic, my longtime loyalty (and, yes, the fact that I occasionally cover whiskey) gave me an in. I reached out to some friends at the distillery, borrowed a Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, and road-tripped from New York City to Shoreham, Vermont, where the brand is based.
On arrival to this sprawling farmstead property — complete with tractors and roaming animals — I was set up in a guest house to quarantine. No contact with the team, just me on my lonesome for a few days. Every morning started with coffee and a visit with the pigs Orwell, Sito, and the big hog on campus, Mortimer Jr. My days were spent taking trail hikes through the nearby mountains, fly fishing, and basking in the late-fall scenery.
As part of my visit, I did get to sample Boss Hog VII: Magellan’s Atlantic during the chilly nights. Here are my thoughts:
WhistlePig’s The Boss Hog VII: Magellan’s Atlantic
Average Retail: $500
First for those who aren’t familiar with the Boss Hog series, here’s why I think it warranted my five-hour drive (even if it was through the remarkably scenic New England countryside). It’s a high-end, annual release where the makers of WhistlePig pull out all of the stops, in an effort to create a completely unique and compelling entry to the category.
Basically, this is an elaboration on their already award-winning rye. 105 proof.
Magellan’s Atlantic is the seventh edition of the Boss Hog, named after the famous Portuguese explorer and inspired by the first circumnavigation of the globe. In the spirit of adventure, the liquid makes its own epic journey. The whiskey is pulled after spending 17 years in American Oak, and then put into Spanish oak from Cantabria on the Northern Coast of Spain. The oak from this region comes high in tannins and is especially porous, meaning that it makes a high impact in a hurry. The juice is then finished with three days in South American Teakwood.
“The whiskey world has never seen this combination of casks, nor has it tasted anything quite like what it has produced,” Pete Lynch, Master Blender of WhistlePig, told me later.
This rye is unlike anything that I have tasted before, and I am not alone in saying that. On the nose, there’s an explosion of spice that takes one’s mind straight to Christmas — full of cinnamon and sugar. Give it a moment more and smooth, salted vanilla, combined with toasted wood notes, lures you in.
The spices return in a big way once the rye hits your tongue, along with a maple syrup sweetness. The taste evolves into a festival of allspice, cherry cordial, espresso, and buttery baked goods. There is a lot going on, and your mind may get overheated trying to figure it all out. Better to just kick back and let the flavors just happen.
This wild ride (rye’d?) eventually slows down, leaving an overall sense of warmth that begs for another circumnavigation.
This is not an easy bottle to procure. And clearly, based on price alone, it’s not a purchase to be taken lightly. But if you’re feeling particularly adventurous and have the money to do so, there is no question that Magellan’s Atlantic is a special expression.
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