There are crazy gimmicks and then there is this special edition of WhistlePig’s PiggyBack 6 year old rye, a whiskey that was formerly most famous for being Dave Pickerell’s final product produced for the Vermont operation.
Now, it’s the base for the mother of all stunts: An edition of PiggyBack that is finished with baseball bats, specifically David “Pig Papi” Ortiz’s signature “DO34” maple wood bats. (Someone pinch me when they do a finish with aluminum bats, will ya?) Not a baseball fan? Portions of proceeds will go to Ortiz’s Children’s Fund, so if any of this sounds interesting, know you’re doing a little good by drinking it.
Can you really taste the Big Papi in this release? Let’s try it out.
I don’t have any of the original PiggyBack on hand for comparison, but the nose on this whiskey is immediately familiar. Lots of baking spice, heavy on the cloves, and lightly dusty. Hints of rhubarb and black cherry here, and plenty of barrel char in the mix, though nothing that feels especially Papiesque. It’s peppery on the palate, but tempered with sweetness. There’s brown sugar, for sure, but is it maple syrup or just my imagination running away with me? The thought of those bats swirling around in a barrel of whiskey. Anyway, I digress. More clove, ginger, and licorice notes give the midpalate some punch — Big Papi must be swinging for the fences here. Any hint of sweetness though dries up on the back end as spice really takes over, the finish becoming quite drying and — as I said with the original PiggyBack — rather rustic.
The formula hasn’t changed much with this special edition, and fortunately neither has the price. While it’s certainly not the best whiskey on the shelf, I have to think that if you picked a bottle up for the Red Sox fan in your life, you’d earn nothing but praise in return.
B+ / $55 / whistlepigwhiskey.com