New WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey Honors Legacy Of Master Distiller Dave Pickerell - The Whiskey Wash

New WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey Honors Legacy Of Master Distiller Dave Pickerell

By Nino Marchetti / April 2, 2019

There are few in the craft whiskey world in recent memory that have had such an influence as master distiller Dave Pickerell. He was a man involved in many a high flying distillery project, but in particular one he was most passionate about was Vermont’s WhistlePig. His passing last year left a hole in the hearts of many in the industry, this writer included, so it is with great respect and perhaps a little too much bias I share with you news about PiggyBack, a new rye whiskey from WhistlePig that’s said to be “truly the culmination of his legacy.”

WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey, according to those behind it, was a whiskey Pickerell had taken a high level of interest in alongside the distillery’s master blender Pete Lynch. Pickerell is said to have chosen the name for this expression “to express the love and respect he had for the bartending community,” which he did indeed have given the number of bartenders he touched during his lifetime. This rye is thus one that’s been targeted towards quality cocktails, consisting of a 100% rye mash bill (sourced from Canada at WhistlePig’s original source – Alberta Distillers in Calgary, Alberta – by Pickerell and Lynch) that’s been aged six years and bottled at 96.56 proof (Pickerell’s birth year being 1956).

WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey

WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey (image via WhistlePig)

“On behalf of Dave Pickerell, and all of us here at WhistlePig, we are pleased to share with you the latest expression in our unparalleled offering of aged rye whiskeys, one of Dave’s final creations,” said Jeff Kozak, CEO, of WhistlePig, in a prepared statement. “WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye is a gift from Dave to his friends across the country and around the world, and of course, the bartenders who helped forge the WhistlePig brand from the very beginning.”

As it stands now, plans call for PiggyBack to be initially available in Illinois, Tennessee, Florida, Washington, D.C. and Missouri. It will price around $50 per 750 ml bottle, making it one of the most affordable bottlings from WhistlePig to date. You’ll find a suggested cocktail and official tasting notes below for your consideration. It should noted as well that the “Pig on the bottle is not wearing a traditional Top hat but a Stetson hat. The hat was Dave’s trademark, and he rarely was seen without it. The bottle design is adapted from the distinctive WhistlePig shape, for ease of handling by bartenders.”

On the nose, fresh cinnamon and black peppercorn mingle, with a hint of tangerine and grapefruit zest. The palate is powerfully spicy, with cocoa, cardamom and cured leather flavors enhancing the grain forward character of this classic rye. The finish is wonderfully lengthy, with baking spices, oak, and vanilla lingering, and hints of citrus throughout.

WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey

The WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye Whiskey cocktail as detailed below (image via WhistlePig)

A classic ode to an old friend. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with a lemon peel.


  • 1.5 oz WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye
  • .75 oz dry vermouth
  • .75 Campari