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WhistlePig 25-Year-Old Single Malt: The Badönkådonk: An Honest Review

In the highly competitive world of rye whiskey, Vermont-based distillery WhistlePig has made a name for itself in a rather unconventional fashion. Despite not boasting the pedigree that some other North American distilleries do, the label has managed to cut through the noise by producing stellar drops, bonded releases, and even the occasional gimmicky bottling. But, while we can’t get enough of its ryes (including the much more affordable Piggyback), today we aren’t talking about the New England-based brand’s rye whiskey prowess. Instead, surprisingly, we’re going to dive into single malt whiskey.

Last year, the beloved brand launched a single malt whiskey called The Béhôlden. Aged for a full 21 years, it was crafted to make single malt whisky drinkers (specifically Scotch whisky drinkers) rethink how they feel about American single malts (although it likely came from Canada). Last month, the brand launched another single malt whiskey, aged for even longer than the first. Meet the WhistlePig 25 Single Malt – The Badönkådonk.

The Badönkådonk is WhistlePig's oldest whiskey to date | Image: WhistlePig
The Badönkådonk is WhistlePig’s oldest whiskey to date | Image: WhistlePig

The Badönkådonk

The story of The Badönkådonk reads like a love letter to traditional distillation and maturation processes. As the brand explains, the whiskey matured for twenty-five years in new American oak barrels before being finished in Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The result is a complex, nuanced whiskey that needs to be tasted to be believed.

“Our Single Malts stand apart not only for age but also maturation in the world’s best barrels. After finishing The Béhôlden in our own well-aged Rye Barrels (with a wink), we set our sights on the best of California wine country,” Meghan Ireland, head blender at WhistlePig said in a press release. “Known for their superstar Cabernets aged exclusively in American Oak barrels, Silver Oak is the perfect partner to push boundaries with, showing what’s possible on our side of the pond.”

WhistlePig 25-Year-Old Single Malt: The Badönkådonk | Image: WhistlePig
WhistlePig 25-Year-Old Single Malt: The Badönkådonk | Image: WhistlePig

American Single Malt?

When most drinkers think of single malt whisky, they tend to look to Scotland exclusively. Over centuries, the regions of Islay, Speyside, Campbeltown, the Lowlands, the Highlands, and everywhere in between have been largely responsible for producing the world’s best-loved single malt drams. Whether you prefer it peated or unpeated, Scotland has no rival when it comes to single malts, but just because it’s the best, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything great coming out of other whiskey-producing countries.

In the last few decades, more than a handful of U.S. distilleries have been cranking out nuanced, award-winning single malts, including labels such as Virginia Distillery, Westward Distillery, Santa Fe Spirits, Westland Distillery, FEW Spirits, and many more. Now, you can add WhistlePig to the list.

WhistlePig 25-Year-Old Single Malt: The Badönkådonk | Image: WhistlePig
WhistlePig 25-Year-Old Single Malt: The Badönkådonk | Image: WhistlePig

How Much Does it Cost?

If you thought the WhistlePig Boss Hog’s USD$500 price tag was ridiculous, you should know that this single malt whiskey makes that look like a bargain bottle. With the aforementioned 21-year-old single malt The Béhôlden retailing for a cool USD$899.99, it’s little surprise the special, limited-released 25-year-old Badönkådonk will set you back a whopping USD$1,999.99. It’s available at select stores, bars, and restaurants in the U.S., however, you can also find it at select retailers in Australia, but expect pay a premium for it. Currently, the release is retailing for AUD$5,691.99 at, which is steep, to say the least.


If, before you take your first sip, you take a moment to give this single malt whiskey a proper nosing, you’d be positive you opened up a bottle of single malt Scotch and not an American whiskey. There are complex aromas of caramelised sugar, raisins, brown sugar, figs, toffee, dried cherries, vanilla, charred oak, and spicy cracked black pepper. It’s one of the most inviting beginnings to an American whiskey we’ve ever encountered. If it smells this good, how great is it going to taste?


The palate is just as spectacular as the nose. It’s a symphony of charred wood, honeycomb, sticky toffee pudding, dried fruits, light peppery spice, toasted vanilla beans, and fresh leather. It ends with a mix of fruity sweetness, crème brulee, and candied pecans. The finish is very long, effortlessly warming, and lingers in the best way possible. There’s so much going on with this whiskey, that you’ll need multiple samplings to unlock all the aromas and flavours. This is a truly unique whiskey that needs to be tasted to be believed.

WhistlePig 25-Year-Old Single Malt: The Badönkådonk | Image: WhistlePig
WhistlePig 25-Year-Old Single Malt: The Badönkådonk | Image: WhistlePig

How Does it Compare to Single Malt Scotch?

The name might be silly, but there’s nothing silly about this single-malt whiskey. Having tried our fair share of single malt Scotch whiskies over the years, this one is on par with some of the best we’ve ever had. This is absolutely not a gimmick whiskey. It’s nuanced, complex, and very flavourful. We dare you to compare it side by side with a 20-plus-year-old single malt Scotch whisky. We bet you won’t be able to tell the difference. It’s that good. It had better be for thousands of dollars, right?

How to Enjoy It

Unless you just have thousands of dollars in cash burning a hole in your pocket, the WhistlePig 25 Single Malt – The Badönkådonk is not a mixing whiskey. We have no doubt that it would make for an epic Old Fashioned if you decided to use it for its base, but should you? This single malt whiskey is best enjoyed neat or with a splash of water. It’s not cask strength by any means, but at 91-proof a dash or two of water will open it up nicely. A whiskey like this deserves to be enjoyed slowly while you overlook a large body of water or sit by a warming campfire.

The Verdict

So, is the WhistlePig 25 Single Malt – The Badönkådonk worth the price tag? Well, that’s a difficult question. You have to ask yourself one question: will you buy a USD$2,000 (more for Australians) bottle of single malt whiskey and think it’s worth it regardless of how it tastes? You find an awful lot of great bottles of single malt Scotch whisky for around $100 that you’ll be more than happy with. Is it an outstanding whiskey? Yes, it absolutely is. Is it worth it? That’s up to you and your wallet.