WhistlePig PiggyBack “Big Papi Barrel” Baseball Bat Finished Rye

Today we’ll talk about the previously announced “Big Papi Barrel” from WhistlePig, the first in their Legend Series, a collaboration with Barstool Sports.  This baseball bat finished rye–yes you read that correct–was created using D034 maple bats as a finishing wood inside the barrels.  I know, it sounds crazy, but let’s dig in and see what it’s all about.


John H.




May 11th, 2022

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At the end of March WhistlePig announced their Legend Series, a collaboration with Barstool Sports. The plan is to release products that celebrate living legends who give 100% in the name of greatness. A personalized twist on some whiskey seems simple enough, right? Nice try.

The Shoreham, VT distillery isn’t merely slapping a pretty label on their everyday bottling and calling it a special edition. These are created for, and selected by David “Big Papi” Ortiz himself. Furthering the schtick, they’ve actually used DO34 maple “bats” (David’s signature baseball bat) to further finish the already six year old rye whiskey in the barrels.

“I’m thrilled to go to bat for WhistlePig Whiskey by kicking off the first limited-edition collection in the new Legends Series,” said David Ortiz, 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee. “This first-of-its-kind whiskey gives fans the opportunity to celebrate America’s pastime over a drink that connects them further to the sport.”

David Ortiz

While I’ll be the first to say this sounds very gimmicky, I can appreciate the amount of legwork involved in launching not only a new product–but a totally customized product that involves so many moving parts–not to mention the sales will raise money for charity.

A limited quantity of bottles, signed by David Ortiz himself, 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.

If you’ve followed along with our Weekly Whiskey reviews or interviews, you know we appreciate a lot of the products coming out of the Vermont distillery, and have purchased some of their highest-priced products because we believe the quality matches the price tag; fortunately, this release landed with an SRP of $49.99 and was available to order directly on WhistlePig’s website.

“If you ask anyone at the distillery, they’ll tell you my signature quote is ‘I’ll put anything in a barrel once.’ This experiment was particularly fun in that it brings together two of my favorite things – breaking new ground for Rye Whiskey, and sports,” said 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% Rye character of WhistlePig PiggyBack. I think fans of the game – regardless of team – will find a home run in the Big Papi Barrel.”

Meghan Ireland, WhistlePig Distillery

Tasting Notes…

Nose – Heady toasted rye with dark character.  Noses much more like a rye twice it’s age.  A nice background of white fruit shows up after a few swirls, and a punch of vanilla cream.

Taste – A pretty impressive mouthfeel coats the palate evenly and brings along a rich crusty dark rye bread with a dash of berry jam.  There is effectively zero ethanol here–all flavor.  Rich and sweet caramel mix in with vanilla.  While not being incredibly complex, everything happening here flavor-wise is executed very nicely.

Finish – This finishes a tad longer than medium, again with zero ethanol.  Where it begins up front with a solid wave of dark rye and rolls back around to much softer and sweeter flavors of vanilla caramel swirl ice cream, I find that the rye spice comes back just a bit at the end and rounds this out quite well.  I could drink this all day.

Bourbon Finder Grade: B+

Final thoughts…

There are a lot of things that immediately came to mind when I received the press release for this product, but I am really glad I held off forming an opinion until I had sipped it.  This book should not be judged by it’s cover.

Red Sox fan or not, this rye is a total home run.  I couldn’t honestly tell you if there is a maple characteristic to this, I didn’t taste maple, but I can say it’s a fine rye whiskey that will make most buyers wish they had bought two bottles…as the first one is likely to run out quickly.

TheBourbonFinder thanks WhistlePig for graciously providing us a sample of their product. Being able to try new things in the whiskey space, without strings attached, is an opportunity we greatly appreciate. Per our review ethos, we provide objective reviews and commentary on media samples of spirits and products; remember, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

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