Sip Of Victory: New WhistlePig Rye Infused With Big Papi’s Favorite Bat

Okay, first things first. I grew up in New England. My grandmother’s favorite shirt was a pink Red Sox baseball jersey, and she used to listen to games on a little portable radio when I was a kid. Sox games were the sound of summer growing up. My husband, who grew up on Long Island, is a die-hard Yankees fan, with pin-stripes in his blood (if that could be a thing?). Our good-natured rivalry is occasionally intense, yet he is able to look past that when it comes to good whiskey.

Even a diehard Yankees fan has to agree that David Ortiz is great — and his bats make fine whiskey.


And as weird as it sounds, the new WhistlePig Whiskey finished with Big Papi’s baseball bats, is really good. The mad geniuses at WhistlePig toasted DO34 maple wood bats — the signature stick for slugger and Red Sox icon David Ortiz—and slipped them whole into a barrel of 100 percent rye whiskey to create the PiggyBack Legends Series: Big Papi Barrel.

“If you ask anyone at the distillery, they’ll tell you my signature quote is ‘I’ll put anything in a barrel once,’” says Meghan Ireland, WhistlePig Blender. “It was incredible to collaborate with David Ortiz, whose toasted maple bats add layers of spice and caramelized notes to the bold, 100 percent Rye character of WhistlePig PiggyBack.”

The bats were convection toasted for consistency, and then put through an extra fire toast to increase the caramelized vanilla flavors. Then they soaked in the whiskey, which had been aging for six years in American oak, for six weeks before bottling.

The resulting spirit is a golden turmeric color, with a good bit of cinnamon on the palate – not hot and artificial like cheap cinnamon whiskeys, but rather a pleasant spice with underlying wood-like notes beneath it. I tend to dislike most rye for its harsh edge, but this is rounded and pleasant—although it does have a bite that reminds you it’s rye.

It is hard even for my husband to argue with greatness — the Baseball Hall of Fame announced Ortiz’s election by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) in his first year on the ballot. The Dominican-American’s MLB career spanned 20 years, including 14 seasons with the Red Sox. Over his time at Fenway, he was a ten-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion and a seven-time Silver Slugger winner.

A limited number of signed bottles will be sold in support of Ortiz’s charitable foundation


Ortiz chose the barrels to slip his bats into himself. For true collectors, a limited quantity of bottles signed by Ortiz will be available for purchase for $340 in honor of #34, with proceeds from sales of each bottle benefiting the David Ortiz Boston Heart Classic, raising funds for children in need of heart surgery. In case you’re wondering, the booze-soaked bats wound up in a bonfire at the Vermont distillery.

WhistlePig says the Big Papi barrel is first of three iterations in the new single barrel Legends Series coming later this year, which will all pay tribute to living pop icons. While they’re coy about what’s next (they suggest looking for upcoming releases on WhistlePig’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), I have a few suggestions. Perhaps Madonna’s leather bustier? A tennis racket from the Williams sisters? Or maybe Tom Brady’s no-longer-final touchdown football.

A big rock takes the edge off, or mix yourself an opening day Old Fashioned.


The Big Papi Barrel will be available for pre-order online at starting today for $49.99 MSRP per 750-ml. bottle. Less than 100 barrels were produced, so if you want to taste a home run, grab yours now. Unfortunately, you may not have it in time for opening day, but you can try this with any WhistlePig you have around.

Opening Day Maple Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz. WhistlePig PiggyBack Legends Series: Big Papi Barrel
  • ½ oz. WhistlePig Barrel Aged Maple Syrup
  • 5 dashes Maple Bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish


  1. Add all ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Stir until Maple Syrup is properly diluted.
  4. Garnish with a fresh orange peel.
  5. Enjoy!

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