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WhistlePig to ‘mature’ beyond rye whiskey

Vermont-based WhistlePig is planning to “mature” beyond being just a rye whiskey company into categories such as Bourbon and single malt, its CEO has said.

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WhistlePig is ‘experiencing the most growth in Japan’, its CEO said

The CEO of WhistlePig, Jeff Kozak, said the company would continue to release more rye whiskey but would also look at making Bourbon and single malt whiskeys.

The brand has seen its volume double every year since it sold a minority stake to Moët Hennessy at the end of 2020, Kozak said.

Liz Rhoades, WhistlePig’s head of whiskey development, said LVMH’s wine and spirits division, Moët Hennessy, was taking care of the brand in key markets in Europe and Asia.

Kozak highlighted the UK, Japan, Korea and Australia as “strong whiskey and Bourbon markets where rye would translate well”.

“We are experiencing the most growth in Japan currently,” Kozak continued. “Japan is an educated whisky market – there remains a shortage of high-quality single malt and American whiskey. We are also seeing growth in Korea.

“I see the category in the ROW [rest of the world] continuing to expand as the US market slows and larger brands concentrate their efforts overseas as more inventory becomes available.”

Kozak said the aim was for WhistlePig to “eventually be in 30 countries, in the top 100 bars/restaurants with a Maple Old Fashioned cocktail on each menu, and be the go-to call for the Old Fashioned in the American whiskey category”.

Kozak also plans to “build small hot spots of activity in countries like Dubai” as well as areas that “cover the top 50 bars and restaurants”.

The CEO noted that the rye whiskey category was “still very new” in the rest of the world, and that education from bartenders was needed.

Kozak said the key to WhistlePig’s growth would be hiring local ambassadors in each market.

“We are building an army of advocacy with our ambassadors and relaunching the League of the Flying Pig which is where we appoint various bartenders and key individuals in each market to also carry the WhistlePig brand message,” Kozak noted.

Earlier this month, WhistlePig bottled its rarest release to date: FarmStock Beyond Bonded.

WhistlePig has also dabbled in Irish whiskey, partnering with Darryl McNally to revive the Limavady brand in 2021.

For an in-depth look at the rye whisky category, see the August 2023 issue of The Spirits Business, out now.

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