As with most softwoods, I'd put down a pre-stain wood conditioner seal on the project. Doing this will prevent your stain from blotching, and give you a more even stain application. Minwax and others make a softwood stain conditioner however, when you mention you're attempting to achieve a rustic type of finish, what are you trying to achieve? Are you looking at taking new pine and making it look old and worn? What also are you finishing your project with, paint, stain, bare?
There's a ton of different ways to achieve a rustic appearance on any project, one simply needs to know what the desired results are.
+1 to pine of some sort. 100% Dewaxed shellac could be a good choice to both seal the wood and pop the grain/figure. At the extremes you could try Zinsser SealCoat (2 lb. cut of 100% dewaxed clear shellac) or dewaxed garnet shellac flakes that you mix. The latter will impart a little more reddish look so it may resemble antique heart pine (longleaf pine).