Whistlepig Rye Blending Challenge, day 1.
As I previously posted, I was selected to take part in a whiskey blending challenge from Whistlepig Distillery in Vermont. As shown in the picture above, the blending kit is a nice wood box engraved with the Whistlepig logo. What the folks from Whistlepig want those of us chosen is to blend our own whiskeys. Our blending kit contains 6 50 milliliter bottles, 2 Barley whiskey, 2 Rye whiskey and 2 Wheat whiskey. The kit also contained a Glencairn glass with Whistlepig engraving, a graduated mixing vial and a pipette to transfer the whiskeys. There was also an instruction sheet that explains the process. Whistlepig master blender Pete Lynch also posted a video on YouTube on how to mix the whiskeys.
Inside the box are the 6 bottle, glass and measuring devices.
2 Barley, 2 Rye and 2 Wheat whiskeys.
The Glencairn glass. It is actually a knockoff, it does not have the Glencairn name etched on the bottom like the other Glencairns I own.
Blending starts with a small taste of each of the whiskeys. The barley has a floral dandelion nose with a hint of lemon. The taste begins with a bit of sour candy. The finish is short with an herbal note. The Rye nose is herbs and grain with a hint of caramel. The taste is definitely rye forward with some earthy citrus notes. The finish is like savory sweet dark bread. The wheat was my favorite of the 3. The nose is of peanut butter and cherry candy. The taste is very smooth and oaky, with hints of dry toast. The finish has a lingering grain with some licorice in the background.
Each sample taste is only 10 ml. That was plenty to get an idea of the flavor palette of each.
I decided to try 6 blends. Blend No. 1 was 3 equal parts of each. The sweetness of the rye and wheat came through on the nose. The taste has some grassy and oak notes with some caramel hanging out at the end. The finish was dry with some grain. Kind of reminded me of chewing on a dried alfalfa stem from when I was a kid.
Blend No. 2 was 60% wheat and 20% each of barley and rye. The cherry notes from the wheat were front and center on the nose with some floral on the edges. The taste was creamy in texture with a woody taste. The finish was dry wheat toast with a grassy pepper hint. I thought this blend turned out pretty good.
Blend No. 3 was 70% rye, 20% barley and 10% wheat. The nose was spicy with some sweetness coming through. The taste was like a dark bread and/or wheat cracker. The finish was spice with some oak and dry grass.
Blend No. 4 was a toned down version of No. 3, it is 50% rye, 30% barley and 20% wheat. The first whiff reminded me of the paints I used when I built model cars. Then some Fiji apple showed up on the second sniff. The taste was a grain forward dark bread made into a crouton. The finish was surprisingly sweet and fruity, then dry at the very end.
Blend No. 5 was 40% rye, 40% wheat and 20% barley. The nose was like a baking apple and wildflowers. The woody flavors from the rye and wheat battled with each other on the taste with some grain on the edges of my tongue. The finish was earthy and tangy. In my opinion, the rye and wheat didn’t play well together and both beat down the barley.
Blend No. 6 was a twist on No. 5. It was 40% rye, 30% barley and 30% wheat. The difference between the rye and wheat helped quite a bit and there was enough barley to mellow this blend. The nose was floral and sweet, the taste was like light rye bread with some honey. The finish was dry woody like most of the other blends with a spice kick late.
After tasting my blends, I bottled each in some Flavier bottles I had. I will let them rest for a day. I also have a couple other blends I was to try, one will be heavy on the barley, the other a tweak of blend No. 2. I have to submit my custom blend by the 28th then I will wait to see if mine is selected. Whistlepig is going to live stream the 3 top selections then we can blend and taste them ourselves. We will vote for our favorite. Hopefully I will have some good news in the next few weeks.