The Holiday season is officially here, and for most of us, it’s the period when we need the most alcoholic fortitude to slog through those torturous office parties and endless family gatherings. In our neck of the woods, we tend to be partial to whiskey as our primary go-to liquor when the mercury really starts to dip. Whether you drink it neat or on the rocks, it goes to work in no time: warming you up and giving you a nice tipsy glow. We discovered WhiskeyPig at a gathering we attended earlier this year, and it’s been on our mind ever since. We reached out to Daniel Khan, one of WhistlePig’s brand stewards and the NE Director of Marketing and Sales to ask him about what makes this Rye so unique and tasty. Read more below ….

“Nothing warms the belly quite like a neat glass of WhistlePig…”

Can you give us a brief background of WhistlePig? 

WhistlePig was born in 2007, when Raj Bhakta bought a failing dairy farm in Shoreham, VT. After spending his last dime on the purchase, he recognized an imminent need to make the farm productive. After conducting his due diligence, Raj partnered up with Master Distiller Dave Pickerell (of Maker’s Mark fame) to launch an ambitious campaign to revive the rye whiskey industry in the States. 

Armed with only a picturesque VT farm and aspirations, they secured the the best reserves of aged rye whiskey to launch their endeavor. The hardscrabble pair came to market with 1000 cases in their first year, but knew the launch was only the first step in their goal of building the first single grain, farm-to-bottle whiskey distillery since Prohibition, with all stages of the process executed on site: from growing the grain, to distilling, barreling, aging, and bottling. July 4th, 2015 will mark the opening of the distillery, as WP becomes a fully fledged farm-to-bottle distillery.

What sets it apart from other Ryes/Whiskeys on the market?
WhistlePig is a fundamentally unique whiskey. We offer a 10 year aged, 100% straight rye whiskey in a market replete with younger whiskeys with mixed mash-bills. We emphasize the potent flavor of the unadulterated rye grain, as opposed to the sweeter corn input found in bourbon, and ensure that the whiskey enters the bottle after more than a decade of careful aging across two different barrels. The result is a robust, yet balanced, single grain rye that has received critical acclaim from Wine Enthusiast, Whiskey Advocate, and Forbes as a truly peerless rye whiskey.

Like we mentioned, our objective at WhistlePig is to reinvent and reawaken America’s love for rye. It was in fact the original American whiskey used in traditional cocktails like the Old-Fashioned, Manhattan and Sazerac. It wasn’t until the advent of the ill-advised prohibition measures of the early 20th century that rye whiskey was unseated and later replaced by bourbon.
Where is it distilled, how long is it aged and how many bottles are produced each year?
WhistlePig was originally distilled in Canada as a flavoring stock for blended Canadian whiskeys. Before Raj and Dave ‘rescued’ this truly unique whiskey, it was previously mixed in small percentages with younger spirits to add more body and flavor. However, no one had ever taken and bottled one of these flavoring stocks all on its own. Recognizing how exceptional this straight rye was when allowed to age longer, Dave and Raj brought it to Vermont to finish for a full 10 years. Currently, we are still working with the original distillery in Canada but have also contracted with a number of other distilleries in the US and Canada.
WhistlePig is expecting to sell 11,000 cases of 10 year old rye in 2014.
Rye is pretty much deemed as a man’s drink, how can guys get their special ladies to get in on the flavor too? Any drink recommendations?
Rye is still stigmatized as a man’s beverage, but as of late, whiskey overall (including rye) has adopted on a different perception in the female market. We just recently hosted a group on the farm out of NYC (that was featured on CBS) called Women Who Whiskey. They are an organization of women who meet up at various hot spots in the city to enjoy whiskey, both neat and in cocktails, and who travel around visiting distilleries and encouraging other women to get into the category.  Anywhere you look now you will see women ordering rye and bourbon at the bar. If you need anymore proof check out all the new female actresses and women of note that profess their love of whiskey; Rihanna, Mila Kunis, Lady Gaga, Hillary Clinton etc.
I think a big issue is that many women (and men) associate whiskey with shots; however, with the rise in fine, craft whiskeys on the market, it is first and foremost a sipping spirit and should be enjoyed much like wine. Beyond that, there are plenty of great classic whiskey cocktails that are very approachable for the new whiskey drinker- Manhattan, Julep, Brown Derby, etc. One of my favorites is a New York Sour (we call it a Champlain Sour in Vermont) which is a classic whiskey sour that uses a little bit of red wine on top to add some full-bodied sweetness. Really well rounded, approachable cocktail that is fantastic with WhistlePig.
It feels like it’s going to be a long and dreary East Coast winter – can you give us 5/6 reasons why guys should stock up on WhistlePig for the winter? 
(1) Nothing warms the belly and the throat quite the way a neat glass of WhistlePig can. The bolder flavors of caramel, mint, and char that come from the barrels, and the viscous quality in your mouth, is a heartier and more satisfying choice during the winter.
(2) The advent of delicious hot winter cocktails that include whiskey. Hot whiskey cider usually does the trick on the farm, especially when steeped with all spice and lemon juice, and finished with a spoonful of honey. 
(3) Gifts: It is a thoughtful, unique gift to the special people in one’s life.
(4) Gatherings: This season is notorious for the unreasonable number of house parties, special dinners, and, most importantly, family events. Amidst the mayhem of it all, a refined drink will reflect well on you (or at the very least dull the rest of the holiday havoc). Just don’t run out preemptively, or you’ll have familial mutiny on your hands.

(5) Last note of advice: There are two types of drinkers: those that put WP on their home bar, and those that put the bottle in their bedside table. While it is important to share, winters can be long, and the remedial value of a simple glass of whiskey and make a world of difference.

For more information, visit the WhistlePig website here.

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