When Vermont-based distillery WhistlePig offered a free sample bottle of its new The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve, I jumped at the offer. That was not due to my familiarity with the whiskey brand as I am more of a Kirkland of Costco drinker.
Between replying yes to the WhistlePig email and having their package arrive on my desk, curiosity got the better of me and I searched for The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve online, which is where I saw a 750-milliliter bottle being hawked for $499. Merry Christmas to me!
And then came the lump of coal in my stocking: It was not a 750-ml bottle inside the WhistlePig box but one of the mini versions that flight attendants serve. Baugh humbug to me!
After being poured into a tumbler and swirled around a bit, the 13-year-old straight rye whiskey smelled incredible, producing a pleasing odor that confirmed a lot was going on with this woodsy, syrupy and peppery liquid.
What really knocked my support hose off was the taste, which I expected to start and finish smooth. I only got the first half of that expectation correct as the hog packed a bold and fiery finish. A heat trail that began at my gums, passed through my throat and ended in my gut remained evident for several seconds.
The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve is WhistlePig’s follow-up to Boss Hog IV: The Black Prince, which won best whiskey and best rye at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits competition. Boss Hog is named after The Dukes of Hazzard villain Boss Hogg, of course, but Mauve was the beloved pet pig of WhistlePig Master Distiller Dave Pickerell, who is also known for having recently unleashed Metallica’s $43 Blackened American Whiskey.
In honor of Mauve, who loved apples, Pickerell finished her namesake whiskey in casks that had previously been used to age Calvados, the French apple or pear brandy.
Mauve and another hog named Mortimer were actually Pickerell’s first two pet pigs, and they were life partners who had one child together, Mortimer Jr., a.k.a. “MJ.” Sadly, Mortimer was killed while defending Mauve’s honor in 2014, and she mourned him until going to the Great Slop Trough in the Sky on Valentines Day 2018. Pickerell is convinced Mauve died of a broken heart.
To mark her passing, The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve comes in a coffin-shaped black box that is accompanied by a pewter topper that features a likeness of the pig in her choir robe, with her wings, looking toward heaven and her beloved Mortimer.
My media sample did not come with those, but the package did include a little black coffin that was too small to hold the mini bottle, a black paper rose and a playing card bearing Mauve’s image.
The moral of the high-end whiskey review: You get what you pay for.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.