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WhistlePig Just Dropped One of the Oldest Single Malts Ever Made in North America

All credit goes to our neighbors to the north for distilling this whiskey more than two decades ago.

WhistlePig The Beholden WhistlePig

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As we’ve reported before, the American single malt whiskey category is very close to getting its own legal definition. Major whiskey brands have seen the writing on the whiskey wall, and are getting in on the action. The latest of these is Vermont’s WhistlePig, which just dropped an ultra-aged and ultra-luxury single malt of its own—but this one was distilled in Canada, not here in the USA.

WhistlePig is best known for its rye whiskey, the majority of which it sources, blends and cask finishes at its distillery and farm in Shoreham, Vermont. These age statement expressions mostly come from Alberta Distillers in Calgary and MGP in Indiana, and are excellent premium expressions made from mashbills of 100 or 95 percent rye. The distillery has also been blending some of its in-house distilled whiskey into certain expressions, like the new PiggyBack Bourbon, and introduced its entirely on-site produced FarmStock expressions a few years ago.

Which brings us to this new whiskey called The Beholden (technically spelled with some accent marks: “The Béhôlden”). Like other WhistlePig expressions, this was distilled in Canada. Reps for the brand won’t reveal exactly where this single malt was born, just that it was made at “the first single malt distillery in Canada 21 years ago.” A likely suspect is Glenora in Cape Breton, a distillery that has been making whiskey since the early ’90s.

Wherever it sprang forth, the whiskey (or whisky, really) was aged in American oak ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in WhistlePig 10 Year Rye barrels for an additional four weeks—naturally, there’s a rye connection here. This is a single barrel release, and the initial launch came from just 18 casks and is bottled at 92 proof. We got to sample The Beholden for ourselves, and found it to be a decadent, dessert-like dram. The nose is rich with maple and honey, as well as just a touch of oak. The palate veers definitively towards the sweet side, so if you like your whiskey dry this is not the dram for you. The maple notes continue as you sip, along with toasted marshmallow, milk chocolate and graham cracker (okay, s’mores then), with a whiff of oaky smoke, tobacco and leather on the finish. This is a lovely whiskey, but definitely one to enjoy post meal rather than the appetizer course.

At 21 years old, this whiskey spent much longer inside a barrel than pretty much every other American single malt available, but there are certainly other Canadian expressions that rival or surpass this age statement. You can find The Beholden starting today at the WhistlePig online shop, as well as other retailers, with an SRP of $800. This is just the beginning for WhistlePig single malt, as the brand plans on releasing more of this whiskey and perhaps even older age statements in the years to come. And don’t be surprised if a FarmStock version comes out someday, but that’s just single malt speculation.

Buy Now on WhistlePig: $800

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