There are boozy collaborations — beer company partners with cooler company, that kind of thing — and then there are boozy collaborations like this one. For its latest SummerStock release, WhistlePig is joining forces with Pit Viper, an outdoor sports and lifestyle eyewear brand best known for its ’80s-inspired sunglasses. This new release — a blend of rye and wheat whiskey that has been finished in toasted barrels — including “solara” barrels that have been toasted through solar exposure. Ready to drink this stuff poolside? Special SummerStock sunglasses can be acquired as a bundle to complete the full experience. (A portion of proceeds from the Limited Edition SummerStock Whiskey and Sunglass duo will be donated to Everybody Solar.)
With the promotional shades off, the whiskey quickly emerges as one of WhistlePig’s more unusual releases to date, the rye and wheat mashes mixing curiously — albeit in a quite engaging fashion. A nose of almonds and, indeed, toasted wood kick off a refreshing, nutty nose. Time in glass sees some alcohol-driven heat emerging, alongside a quietly barnyardy character — slightly animalistic, slightly vegetal — but tempered with some brown sugar and sesame oil, keeping any roughness in check.
The nose is evocative, but the palate is richer and more immediately engaging. Sweet and nougaty, there’s a vein of ginger spice mixed with a pinch of cayenne and some wood — here more barrel char than toast — all appearing alongside some coconut husk, a solid slug of vanilla, and a gently grassy quality bringing up the rear. The finish isn’t long but is, as the name would suggest, quite sunny and bright, layered with spice and vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon. It’s a whiskey that rewards time in glass and can indeed withstand an idyll in the sun — though you’d be well advised to bring ice along if the temperature in your neck of the woods is anything like what I’ve got going on down here in Austin.
A- / $73 ($150 with the sunglasses) / whistlepigwhiskey.com