Review: WhistlePig Farmstock Rye Whiskey Crop 003
The final edition of WhistlePig’s FarmStock series — its first whiskeys that include spirit distilled from grain grown on its own farm — has arrived. Crop 003 is, as all WhistlePig releases, a 100% rye release, and it’s comprised of 52% of WhistlePig’s own 3-year-old rye whiskey which is blended with 31% 6-year aged whiskey and 17% 10-year aged whiskey, both sourced from Alberta, Canada. Notably, at 52%, “most” of the whiskey in the bottle is WhistlePig’s own production. Both Crop 001 and Crop 002 were at least interesting products, so hopes run high for #003.
The catch with Crop 003 is that, although the WhistlePig-produced portion of the blend is one year older than Crop 002, there’s a lot more of it… which means the overall age of the blend is actually younger. I did the math. It isn’t hard since WhistlePig is very exact on its proportions, but I was nonetheless shocked: The composite age of Crop 003 is 5.12 years. Crop 002 is 5.64 years old. And the original Crop 001 is a whopping 6.37 years old! These whiskies are getting younger, not older! Now those numbers are decidedly not indicative of quality (witness the rough Crop 001 as a case in point), but they do drive home a key point: Crop 003 has a lot of very young whiskey in it, and it shows.
The nose is decidedly grain forward, with bold cereal character giving way to notes of black pepper, mixed spices (lots of cloves in there), some dried berries, and a surprising degree of menthol. Breathe deep and you might feel like you’re sniffing BenGay.
The palate is chewy with notes of fresh hay and well-toasted grains, though it again finds room for a little nuance in the form of raspberry, spicy nutmeg, and cinnamon notes. Still, it’s the cereal notes that rise above all else, and it’s here that Crop 003 shows its youthful makeup the clearest. The finish hints at dark chocolate and cafe au lait, but on the whole, the theme that has defined Farmstock over the last three years is seen through to the end. WhistlePig calls this an exploration of terroir. That’s a nice way of putting it, I guess.