Whistlepig Boss Hog 六 “Samurai Scientist” is First American Whiskey Finished in Umeshu Barrels

Whistle Pig Boss Hog VI, Samurai Scientist.

Samurai Scientist, the sixth installment in WhistlePig’s The Boss Hog line, will be the first American Whiskey finished in Japanese Umeshu barrels.

This sixteen year old, single barrel, barrel proof whiskey was finished in barrels that held umeshu, a traditional Japanese plum cordial. The umeshu, made by Japanese brewer Kitaya, was aged for 11 years before the barrels were turned over to the Vermont-based craft distiller WhistlePig.

“It was an honor to work alongside the team at Kitaya to bring this collaboration to life in the form of the first American whiskey finished in Japanese umeshu barrels. With the introduction of The Samurai Scientist, WhistlePig continues to pave the way for innovation across the rye category,” says Jeff Kozak, CEO, WhistlePig in a press release.

Dave Pickerell committed to five promises for The Boss Hog, including being distinctly unique from anything we’ve done before,” continues Kozak. “He had a thirst for exploring and trialing techniques from around the world, and Takamine was likeminded in propelling whiskey innovation across continents. This vision continues to drive us to explore beyond the limits of American Whiskey.”

Samurai Scientist will be the first release of The Boss Hog since the passing of WhistlePig Master Distiller Dave Pickerell late last year. The line was a place for him to release high-end, experimental, well-aged rye whiskies. Previous members of The Boss Hog line have included The Spirit of Mauve, finished in apple brandy barrels, and The Black Prince, an award-winning rye finished in Armagnac casks.

“We finished one of our oldest whiskeys in barrels that held Kitaya’s eleven-year-old umeshu. With umeshu being an intensely aromatic spirit, it does not take long to impart deeply complex flavors. Each barrel of The Samurai Scientist is bottled at proof. Only 90 barrels exist and each bottle notes the barrel number and proof, ranging between 120 – 122,” adds Pete Lynch, Master Blender, WhistlePig, in a press release.

Like other members in The Boss Hog line, the pewter pig stopper is uniquely handmade for the release. In this year’s case, WhistlePig crafted a samurai-dressed topper in memory of Jokichi Takamine, the “samurai chemist” who taught koji fermentation to American whiskey makers in the 19th century. The same koji method was used to distill the rye whiskey crafted for the new release.

In the new Samurai Scientist, Whistlepig tells us to look for a nose that’s “intensely aromatic, with cinnamon, maple, and toasted marshmallow that develops with time in the glass,” and a palate with “tobacco, ginger, baking spices, and savory umami creating a remarkably rich, nuanced and elegant profile lending to soft, sweet notes that further color the mosaic of flavor.” The finish is said to be “incredibly long, with oak spice, char, and just a touch of smoke lingers as [it] fades.”

WhistlePig The Boss Hog VI Samurai Scientist is arriving on shelves soon for a suggested retail price of around $500, but you can pre-order your bottle at Caskers here. 

Caroline Paulus
Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.