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Going Against the Grain with WhistlePig Whiskey

November 18, 2022
WhistlePig Whiskey

Landing your first whiskey client is kind of a “pig deal.” 

As Director of Beer, Wine & Spirits at RedPeg, I’m always looking to grow our portfolio to represent the full landscape of the beverage industry, with leading and innovating brands. As a whiskey fan and collector, when the potential to work with WhistlePig Whiskey came across our path, to say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. I was on cloud Rye! (If you’re not prepared for more puns, this is your stop off the Bourbon bus.) 

WhistlePig is the brand that put high-end Rye whiskey on the map. The more we learned about what they stood for and wanted to express through experiential marketing, the more exciting the opportunity became. With WhistlePig’s young energy, they are unfixed to decades of history. They can be as innovative and irreverent as they want to be. 

And here we are: Getting to be their partner in this endeavor, helping them craft a one-of-a-kind brand experience, and turning a vision into reality.

Our first foray into the experiential realm with WhistlePig took place in July. Tales of the Cocktail is one of the most recognizable events in the beverage industry, and WhistlePig challenged us to take a guerilla marketing approach to pushing PiggyBack Rye, a 6-year aged Rye that is perfect for crafting cocktails. Even with over a decade of experience in the beverage industry, the sentences that would come out of our mouths still surprise me. 

“Let’s purchase a tiny home on wheels and use it to build a mobile bar concept that pays homage to the Sugar Shack on WhistlePig’s farm, and send it to New Orleans,” was not on my 2022 bingo card. But it’s exactly what we did! 

The full-fledged Sugar Shack in Vermont is where their maple syrup is boiled and prepared, prior to being enjoyed in WhistlePig cocktails. That’s right, this whiskey brand does more than just distill, they have their own maple syrup, too. 

WhistlePig Sugar ShackTales of the Cocktail was a great start to our relationship and set off a storm of WhistlePig-RedPeg planning for future activations. Our next project was to support the launch of PiggyBack 100 Proof Bourbon. We updated the Sugar Shack to better reflect the Bourbon-versus-Rye imagery, splitting it in half and offering consumers the ability to try both and compare in a fun, yet competitive manner. Then we sent it back on the road for a four-city tour. 

WhistlePig’s Bourbon tour kicked off in Dallas, Texas and made its way to Atlanta, Georgia, before proceeding to Tampa, Florida. As I write this, the Sugar Shack is headed back from its final event in Texas, where we concluded the tour in Austin at an F1 and Sports Illustrated VIP event. 

In our fast and furious four months on the road together, we have made THOUSANDS of Maple Rye Old Fashioneds and Maple Bourbon Sours; we have introduced countless consumers to the WhistlePig brand and signature cocktails; we have created unparalleled photo opportunities and branded lawn games like PorkHole. (Like cornhole, but better.) 

Drinks and lawn games hopefully evoke imagery of tailgating with your friends, and that was certainly the atmosphere we were trying to create.  To build upon this, we launched a sweepstakes, where consumers have a chance to bring the Sugar Shack to your home for the biggest game in football. Is there a more iconic duo than pigskin and tailgating, outside of Bourbon and Rye!? 

We have had the pleasure to interact with knowledgeable fans of the brand, people who have never heard of them, and everyone in between. The positivity we have received from consumers, industry regulars, the restaurant partners we have paired with, and the client has been unbelievable. I honestly cannot be more excited about the potential opportunities ahead of us in 2023, to continue this journey alongside WhistlePig. 

Expect the irreverent and the unexpected!

Mike Kaufman

Mike Kaufman

Director, Partner Services | Beer, Wine & Spirits
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