If you didn’t know it already, rye is having a bit of a moment. Like bourbon, rye whiskey has had a meteoric rise worldwide over the past decade. These days, it seems like new expressions are released on a nearly-constant basis.
Last year, The Boss Hog VII: Magellan’s Atlantic, named for the famed Portuguese explorer, was made up of Canadian rye whiskey that was aged for seventeen years in American oak that was then transferred to Spanish oak before being finished for three days in South American teakwood. The result was an epic, spicy, sweet, slightly tannic, dry, warming whiskey that took home the award for Best Rye Whiskey at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Naturally, it kept us very excited about what was coming next.
This year, WhistlePig continues the globe-trotting journey with The Boss Hog VIII: LapuLapu’s Pacific. This over-the-top expression begins with straight rye whiskey, also sourced from Canada, that’s matured for almost eighteen years in new American oak barrels before being double finished in highly toasted barrels that once held small batch, single island, aged rum from The Philippines.
WhistlePig The Boss Hog VIII: LapuLapu’s Pacific
ABV: 52.4-53.3% ABV
Average Price: $499.99 (MSRP)
While many know Magellan as the first person to circumnavigate the globe, few know of his eventual demise at the hand of Filipino icon LapuLapu during the battle of Mactan. Five hundred years later, this whiskey is named in LapuLapu’s honor. On top of paying tribute to the Filipino cultural hero, this whiskey was made to showcase the rum-producing expertise of The Philippines. While the Caribbean gets all the press in the rum world, The Philippines is crafting high-quality rums including the small-batch rum (aged between seven and ten years) that provided the barrels this iconic whiskey was finished in.
“On the heels of Magellan’s Atlantic, it was a great challenge to find the perfect finish for the most special rye barrels in our warehouse.” Says Meghan Ireland, a Blender at WhistlePig Whiskey. “We were already tracing Magellan in-depth, and when we discovered LapuLapu’s story we knew we had to track down the best Philippines Rum barrels we could for the sequel. Before maturing Rum for seven to ten years, the barrels were coopered from American Oak and originally held bourbon. In this way, they’ve made their own circumnavigation from American whiskey to the Philippines, and back again to us in Vermont.”
I spent a longer time nosing this whiskey than usual. There was just so much to unpack. First, there was an unmistakable hint of orgeat syrup, almond cookies, bananas, sweet rum, and caramelized sugar. The more I sniffed, the more I found a symphony of tropical fruits. This nose is so fruity, I almost didn’t expect to find a rye whiskey once I took a sip. But there it was, very present on the palate. The unmistakable peppery rye spice is right there up front, along with butterscotch, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, more candied almonds, and dried cherries. It ended with more toffee, orgeat, and pleasing, warming cracked black pepper.
Like Magellan traversed the globe, this was an epic journey for the senses in whiskey form.
The Boss Hog VIII: LapuLapu’s Pacific isn’t in everyone’s budget. For most of us, it’s pretty difficult to justify spending $500 for a single bottle of whiskey. But we’re here to tell you if you have the extra cash burning a proverbial hole in your pocket, this is a very solid use of it. You can find this unique, limited-edition expression at premium liquor stores, bars, pubs, restaurants, and various online retailers including shop.whistlepigwhiskey.com.
It’s hard to imagine rye being much better than this unless you actively want it to be more traditional tasting.